Those that are struggling with addiction are often trying to just get through the day. They use drugs and alcohol to escape and cope with distressing emotions. Some of these emotions that commonly play a role in addiction are guilt and shame.
These can become stronger as you delve further into substance use as you may start to engage in behaviours you never would take part in sober. In these ways, guilt and shame can fuel your addiction even more. These emotions need to be addressed to have a successful recovery treatment.
Most people don’t see much difference between guilt and shame, and both are perceived as emotions to avoid. They can be experienced after doing something harmful or embarrassing. However, for those in treatment for substance use disorder, there are significant differences between guilt and shame.
Guilt heals, and feelings of guilt are a sign of a healthy recovery. Guilt allows healing by allowing ownership and empowerment.
Feeling bad is a necessary part of the human experience.
Shame is a bit deeper than guilt. While guilt is typically on the surface, shame happens internally and can significantly affect how you view yourself. Shame can lead to negative thoughts or actions that impact you more deeply.
In Solice, we want patients to talk about all the pain, the trauma, and the guilt and shame. We want them to deal with their past and their present honestly, confronting the reality of their situation, before they can plan what they want to achieve.
Because feelings of guilt and shame can be triggering for those in recovery, it is essential to know specific coping strategies for dealing with them.
Our professional Solice Team can help you identify what you are feeling like a significant part of your recovery, so you can pick yourself back up and take proper action.
In treatment, we’ve learned that the more someone accepts their guilt — which is about behaviours — the less shame they carry. If we can get someone talking about their behaviours, we can decrease their feelings of shame. And we increase their sense of empowerment which creates openness for an increase in genuine self-esteem.
When you realize that you are a human and everyone makes mistakes, you take the pressure off yourself. What you can do to make up for your mistakes is ask for forgiveness from those you have wronged. After that, you can take steps to forgive yourself. This way, you can ensure you can maintain your recovery and break the cycle of guilt and shame.
Grétar talks about his own experience with guilt and shame and how to overcome it.