In 12-Step programs, making amends is covered in steps 8 and 9. It’s fair to say that you may face certain unique challenges as you progress in your recovery. The way you are impacted by, and respond to, guilt and shame can be quite intense. These might be family members, long-time friends or other people working to stay sober and live a life in recovery. The Blackberry Center is a 64-bed behavioral hospital in St. Cloud, Florida. Nestled in a tranquil setting just outside of Orlando, our mental health facility provides patients with a safe place to reflect, reset and heal. If you are struggling with addiction, it may seem like there is no end to it.

How do I let go of guilt and shame?

  1. Take responsibility for your actions.
  2. Express remorse and regret without letting it transform into shame.
  3. Commit to making amends for any harm you caused.
  4. Practice self-acceptance and trust yourself to do better in the future.

Search by your age, location, treatment program and level of care to find the solution that best fits your needs. As adults, most of us have self-esteem because we have overcome difficulties. We don’t feel self-esteem because we got out of bed in the morning. Only by allowing someone to work through their difficulties themselves do we give them a chance to grow. Connecting with people in the recovery community shows you that sobriety is possible no matter what’s happened in the past. Knowing that others have faced similar struggles can help you feel more hopeful about the future and less critical of your past.

Exploring shame and addiction

Ignoring your feelings, as complicated as they may be, is dangerous and unhelpful. What tends to happen is that these feelings are bottled up so tightly to the point where everything pops. When this happens, you may turn to methods that provide immediate relief, like drug or alcohol abuse. Ignoring difficult feelings can also promote isolation and bitterness.

  • Only by allowing someone to work through their difficulties themselves do we give them a chance to grow.
  • The institute estimates 40 to 60 percent of people have a relapse during their first year of recovery, but over time that percentage is lower.
  • These might be family members, long-time friends or other people working to stay sober and live a life in recovery.
  • Embarrassment is the root of shame, which can lead to additional feelings of hurt.

Overcoming shame in recovery – and after recovery – is crucial to defeating a drug addiction and/or alcohol addiction and maintaining lifelong sobriety. When a person has a mental health condition, they’re more likely to develop a substance problem. People might turn to substances to cope with their symptoms the same way they’d cope with stress or guilt.

Overcoming Feelings of Guilt and Shame in 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. Individuals that are greatly impacted by shame are often isolated or separated from others. At times, they may even feel disconnected from everything, and with prolonged isolation, substance abuse is more likely to occur. On the other hand, shame ties into feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. Where guilt can push some to correct a mistake or error in behavior, shame actually causes many sufferers to seek isolation in order to minimize embarrassment and judgments.

  • This way, you can ensure you can maintain your recovery and break the cycle of guilt and shame.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, and these flaws do not define you or make you unworthy of being loved or respected.
  • First, you should focus on what you can control.
  • Now, now, having made that distinction, what’s to be done about this?
  • Ironically, the shame because it’s so stressful will lead to continued addictive behaviors, and so you get locked in this vicious cycle.

This can help you become a better person and avoid making the same mistake in the future. It can cause you to engage in destructive thoughts and behaviors that lead to more wrongdoings. Shame can cause further hurt for yourself and others down the road. Knowing the difference between the two emotions can help you recognize what you are feeling and learn how to solve the situation. Those that are struggling with addiction are often trying to just get through the day. They use drugs and alcohol as a means to escape and cope with distressing emotions. Some of these emotions that commonly play a role in addiction are guilt and shame.

How Do Amends Fit into Managing Guilt?

And we can talk more about this in terms of what that means in terms of brain and body because it’s very important to understand that even at a basic level. He stepped on my foot and looks like like it’s no big deal. And so it ends up leading to a breakdown in relationships because the person that shamed they don’t necessarily look like they’re alarmed because they’re in a freeze response. I think about this sometimes and I would say this to parents, is that when your son or daughter is trapped in an addictive cycle, you can bet your bottom dollar.

Even if that task before us is accepting the consequence of a past mistake, we are that much closer to forgiveness. This has been attributed to Lao Tzu many times online, although the true origins are actually unknown. This concept has many merits guilt and shame in recovery and encourages us to focus on the present to be at peace with ourselves and to keep depression and anxiety at bay. Part of embracing self-worth is self-care and it’s critical we all take care of ourselves so we can be of value to others too.

The Process of Letting Go of Shame

There is a strong link between shame and mental health conditions, including depression. This association can also drive you to self-medicate, furthering the cycle of addiction. When you feel guilty, it’s related to a behavior you engaged in. For example, if you committed a crime or lied about something important, you might feel guilt based on those actions. When you’re guilty, you likely realize what you did was wrong.

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You know, I’ve practiced for 10 years now, something I got very active early on, I’ve just, it’s okay, if I speak personally. Yeah, I got very active early on in my recovery. And so I realize it’s definitions, but it’s really important that at least people understand the way I’m defining them. Families play an essential part in the healing process.

The Key Differences Between Guilt & Shame

The last thing that somebody is going to be able to articulate is the shame they’re experiencing when they’re in it. It’s not verbalized double, you can look at indirect indicators, but that’s about as good as it gets.

What are the negative effects of shame?

People who live with shame often feel worthless, depressed, and anxious. Shame can be a contributing factor in depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. [iii] People who are constantly ashamed live out a difficult emotional and mental battle each and every day.

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