Letting Go of Guilt and Shame in Addiction Recovery

shame in addiction recovery
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Addiction recovery is essential for anyone suffering from substance abuse or addiction disorders. Yet for many, the most challenging step is the first. Many people hold back in their addiction recovery efforts because of shame and guilt. Indeed, guilt and shame in addiction recovery prevent many from receiving the help they need or checking into recovery programs.

Read on if you or a loved one need help or can’t start a recovery program due to your negative feelings. We’ll explore why some people experience shame or guilt in addiction recovery and how to overcome these feelings.

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Why Do Some People Feel Guilt or Shame in Addiction Recovery?

Guilt and shame are the strongest and most damaging emotions we can experience. Unfortunately, they get caught up in addictive behaviors and circumstances.

For example, someone may feel shame that they became addicted to a substance in the first place, or they may feel shame if they relapse after having remained sober for a long time.1 Guilt, meanwhile, can surface if someone feels like they have let their family or job responsibilities slip because of their addictions.

The causes of shame and guilt are multifaceted and can include:

  • Having insecure attachment styles
  • Having parental figures who abused drugs or alcohol
  • Experiencing trauma or abuse
  • Being exposed to negative opinions about substance abuse or addiction recovery programs

Guilt and Shame Can Hold You Back

Despite these challenges, it’s essential to recognize that guilt and shame can hold you back from getting the help you need.

Addiction recovery programs are vital for many. They provide the support, medical attention, and personal care individuals need to overcome addiction or substance abuse disorders. If you allow guilt or shame to hold you back, you’ll never be able to start a recovery program and get your life back on track.

Shame, for example, may stop someone from signing up for an addiction recovery program because they don’t want to be embarrassed or seen entering or leaving the facility. Meanwhile, another individual might feel guilt attending an addiction recovery program since they may feel that they should be strong enough to overcome addiction by themselves.

No one is in this struggle alone. While guilt and shame are understandable, you can’t let them dictate your future or prevent you from getting critical assistance in overcoming your addiction.

How to Let Go of Shame and Guilt in Addiction Recovery

To break the cycle of shame and guilt in addiction recovery, it’s crucial to identify the sources of your negative feelings. These are often outside factors pushed on you by other people. Surround yourself with supportive individuals, like friends and family members, who will help you access the recovery assistance you need to thrive again.

It’s also important to accept yourself. No matter what you feel or what you’ve done, to heal from shame, you must admit that you aren’t perfect, and your mistakes do not mean you can’t improve. Everyone has flaws, but that doesn’t mean you are unworthy of love.

In the long run, you must forgive yourself to achieve long-term healing and overcome guilt and shame.2 Find the strength to forgive yourself no matter your mistakes or actions. Every day is new, and taking the steps you need to engage in addiction recovery proves that you are changing your behavior and are on the path to health.

Ultimately, addiction treatment can help you rediscover your self-worth and feel better than ever.

Contact Clear Life Recovery Today

It can be challenging to let go of shame in addiction recovery, but you don’t have to do it alone. Facilities like Clear Life Recovery can help you to overcome the stigma surrounding addiction and addiction recovery through our various support programs.

We offer addiction recovery programs for alcohol addiction, heroin addiction, and much more and specially tailored addiction programs for different groups, like young adults or members of the LGBTQIA+ community. No matter who you are or what you need, Clear Life Recovery can help. Contact us today.



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8932605/

[2] https://bewell.stanford.edu/the-benefits-of-self-forgiveness/