In Addiction and Recovery, Guilt Heals While Shame Poisons

The important thing is to recognize the behavior, and let it out rather than keep it inside. You can try a ritual of writing down things you’d like to move on from and then destroying the pieces of paper. Imagine a person who has committed murder goes to trial. During trial, the defendant may acknowledge guilt for the crime committed.

How do I let go of guilt and shame?

  1. Acceptance. Acknowledge that you are a human, and know that every human makes mistakes.
  2. Learn from mistakes. Try to learn from your mistakes.
  3. Take risks. Be willing to take risks.
  4. Visualize the future. Picture yourself free from guilt, regret, and self-condemnation.

Barbara Warner (MSW, LCAC, LCSW) and John Robertson each have many years of experience counseling people with addiction through their guilt and shame. They wouldn’t be ashamed of having diabetes or having heart problems, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of developing a substance use disorder. There’s no sense fanning the flames of guilt, so address whatever is making you feel guilty head-on. This might be as simple as apologizing for hurting someone. For those who find it difficult to relate to people, dogs and other pets are tremendously good at unconditional love and might be a good place to start. They’re excellent for improving mental health too.

What Is The Difference Between Guilt and Shame?

Guilt from using substances in the past and hurting others can prevent a person from using again once they’ve entered treatment. Understanding and confronting the shame and guilt you experience in addiction is a critical part of recovery. Dwelling on it and sitting in those toxic emotions only sets you up for a relapse. At Sandstone Care, our team of highly trained and passionate professionals is dedicated to helping teens and young adults to realize their full potential.

Guilt is when a person feels bad about something that was done. Guilt is about saying something or doing something while intoxicated or under the influence that is regretful. Shame is a step further which acknowledges that a person feels bad for their actions when they shouldn’t have.

Guilt and Shame in Addiction

The feeling that comes after these actions is what can be classified as guilt. During addiction, you may feel guilt for saying something rude to someone while you were under the influence or made a wrong decision that impacted your life or the lives of others. Guilt is that feeling of responsibility or remorse you have after you do something wrong. Between these two emotions, shame is the most destructive.

  • But there’s a couple of other responses are interesting.
  • This tends to be a very uncomfortable process, both for the patient and for the family.
  • Sobriety is jeopardized if healthy coping methods are not learned and embedded into everyday living.
  • Highly shame-prone individuals sometimes find it challenging to benefit from traditional cognitive behavioral therapies and may benefit from a compassion-focused approach.
  • And there’s a lot of nervous fibers centralized in the abdomen.
  • Instead, you should surround yourself with supportive people who understand what you’re going through and want to help you move forward instead of dwelling on your past.

If you are looking for community support, check out our alumni page for updates on sober events and gatherings or reach out to our alumni coordinator Kelly Butzer for more information. All rights reserved.Tara Treatment Center, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is still hope! Contact us here at Rise in Malibu for information on how to get help.

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Individuals with this disorder may ignore the rights and feelings of others and may even antagonize them, manipulate them, or treat them harshly. Although a lack of guilt doesn’t necessarily mean you have this condition, the feeling can indicate a healthy conscience, which is a good thing. People suffering from mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia or trauma, will consume drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of the disorder.

family support in addiction recovery

Getting drunk, high, or otherwise impaired accomplishes nothing except delaying the inevitable moment when the individual is forced to face reality. This often occurs in early recovery, once the person’s body and mind are free from the influence of addictive substances. When dealing with guilt vs. shame, it’s important to address these feelings head-on so they have less power to negatively affect the choice to stay as healthy as possible.

Those of us in recovery may deal with this to a greater extent. When we’re under the influence, our critical thinking skills are impaired and we’re more likely to do things we might not otherwise. Once we string together some alcohol-free days and the brain fog begins to lift, we may feel the weight of these past actions even heavier. We may have to confront the ways our actions while intoxicated have hurt people we love. Many of us used alcohol to cope with painful emotions, and when we stop drinking, the emotions hit us hard. With the right therapy, a person can potentially expel their shame, by understanding their guilt.

mush brain

Shame and guilt are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. When a person feels guilty, usually it’s because they regret a choice they’ve made or their behavior. Guilt is a remorseful feeling that can either motivate a person to correct the situation or cause them to act out negatively or irrationally. This feeling often leads to an unhealthy amount of regret and heartbreak over uncontrollable situations. Guilt can also take over even when this individual has done everything in their power to set things right and make amends. Concerning drug addiction, guilt and shame are very important.

How To Conquer Shame

It isn’t easy to acknowledge the mistakes made while in active substance use. However, the whole concept of rehabilitation rests on renewal and restoration. To harbor negative emotions about yourself, like guilt and shame, is self-defeating.

  • Feeling guilty can cause you to apologize or drive you to make amends with someone that you hurt.
  • When a person has a mental health condition, they’re more likely to develop a substance problem.
  • Shame ultimately damages your self-worth, causes depression and makes recovery harder.
  • Guilt can lead us to make an effort to atone for the hurt that we have caused other people or to fix the problem that we have created.
  • Shame takes that a step further and tells the person they are bad, or not valuable, because of their bad actions.

When you have sorted out what you are feeling, then you can choose an appropriate response. Feelings of shame can develop in children as young as 15 months. Guilt stems from the knowledge that we have done something objectively wrong. Shame stems from the feeling that we are inherently damaged. Shame may arise in early childhood when our negative emotions are denied.

What is the Difference Between Guilt and Shame?

As it turns out, guilt can be an adaptive experience. Guilt forces us to consider the kind of person we want to be and change our behavior to match. Shame, on the other hand, can make us believe that change isn’t possible, sabotaging our efforts from the inside. “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide and eating disorders,” Brown said in her TED Talk.

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