While shame is a natural offshoot of guilt and remorse, internalizing it in recovery is dangerous. When shame becomes part of your self-identity, it can prevent you from moving forward in recovery. A deep sense of shame sets up the broader feeling of unworthiness, of being unworthy of love, support, or help.

Meditation is a powerful tool for learning to stay in the present and lessen the feelings of guilt and shame. Constantly thinking about past mistakes, big or small, only worsens the negative emotions of guilt and shame. Left unchecked, it can increase levels of depression. Guilt and shame, if not handled, take hold during these new moments in recovery.

Shame Causes Addiction and then Addiction Causes More Shame

A person might be ashamed of their mental health and guilty for how they treat others when they’re struggling. Sometimes, mental health conditions aren’t the cause of these emotions, but they simply exist together. For example, a traumatic event in childhood can trigger a mental disorder and feelings of shame or guilt, even if these feelings are misplaced. Shame is prone to spiraling into self-medicating and addiction or keeping you within the cycle of addiction.

Eventually, the defendant will be declared ‘guilty’ by a judge. It may give closure to the victim’s family, but guilt is entirely about the defendant. When early on, there’d be no way to explain that from brain science. I think for me, I’ll tell you the truth on this one, Clint, even though I’m a psychologist by background, you and I started by talking about this, I cared deeply about spiritual resources.

How to Overcome Shame and Guilt in Recovery

I don’t know if in the I figure you have this in Indiana, we certainly I grew up in Central California. When I grew up as a kid, I lived in rural Central California, I’d wake up in the morning, and there’d be more than a few dead possums on the road, which was disturbing. Well, it took me a while it probably asked about it is that possums what possums do when they see something that’s threatening their survival. And I think I spent 9% of the time feeling that way. And it was coming out of long-term addiction that got worse and worse.

shame and guilt in recovery

Ever since the user was a child, they had been told ‘not to do drugs’ by authority figures. Everytime that they consume their drugs or alcohol, a voice in the back of their head is telling them that they are bad. Drug addiction is always the ultimate catch-22. People suffering from mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia or trauma, will consume drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of the disorder. After a while however, the user discovers that drug addiction makes the mental disorder much worse. So now, the tormented mind must battle their mental disorder plus addiction.

Breaking The Cycle of Guilt & Shame in Addiction Recovery

Beating yourself up will only make things worse. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, focus on the positive things in your life. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and know that everyone makes them. Remember that you shame and guilt in recovery are only human and that you deserve compassion and understanding, just like everyone else does. Shame is an intense emotion that is felt when you believe you have failed to meet others’ expectations or standards.

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