Guilt and shame are common emotions for people recovering from experience or trauma that has directly hurt themselves or other people.
But there is a multitude of reasons why a person might feel this guilt in addiction recovery.
Some people feel undeserving of happiness or sobriety, while others might feel like they have done too much damage to their own and other’s lives.
This shame and guilt can be an extreme problem for those in recovery, and studies have shown that it can increase a person’s chance of relapsing.
For this reason, people must tackle these feelings early on.
Addiction is, in fact, a disease. When someone is addicted to a substance, they have a dependency on the substance that causes it to be hard, if not impossible, for them to stop using on their own.
The dependency can be both physical and psychological. When a person develops an addiction, it is due to a process and number of specific conditions that are not a moral failing.
A person may feel shame about their alcohol or drug addiction on their own, or they may feel shamed by friends or family members who are trying to convince them to get help.
Unfortunately, shame can make addiction worse as a person with an addiction may decide that they do not even deserve help or sobriety. They may even increase their drink or drug use to cope with shame. As their addiction gets worse and causes more problems, the shame will also get worse. Learn about the addiction cycle here.
There are a variety of reasons a person might feel guilty about their addiction. They may feel guilty over things that they have said or done and the impact of their choices. Other people may feel ashamed of how much time they wasted on addiction.
Feelings of guilt can also lead to depression and is a significant risk factor for relapse, no matter what the reason is. Therefore, it is important that a person works through their guilt and use it as a tool rather than a detriment.
Guilt and shame are two different emotions. Guilt tends to be the emotion people feel when they have done something against their moral code or feel when they have done something wrong.
On the other hand, when a person feels shame, they tend to feel negative or self-destructive feelings about who they are. Both can because problems during recovery, but guilt can be used as a tool while shame is always destructive.
There is a wide range of reasons why a person’s guilt, especially when it is excessive, can be a problem for those in recovery. Below are some of the most common:
It is quite common for people with addictions to not fully process and deal with their guilt, which can stunt their recovery progress or cause them to relapse. For some people, guilt over other things is what caused them to drink or use drugs in the first place, so they may return to the substances to deal with the guilt.
People with addiction can suffer survivors’ guilt while in recovery. They may feel like they do not deserve happiness or sobriety. They may also feel guilty if other people in the same programme deal with relapse or appear to be having a harder time.
If a person does not deal with their survivor’s guilt, it can be just as dangerous as other forms of guilt and shame, and can even lead to relapse. Here are a few tips on how to cope with survivor’s guilt in addiction recovery:
There are a few different things people can do to deal with their guilt while in recovery. First of all, it is important to recognise the place of guilt as a learning tool, not as a punishment.
If you look at guilt as a learning tool, you can work to let go of excess guilt (oftentimes talking with a therapist can be beneficial for this.) After you let go of excess guilt, you can start focusing on making amends and moving forward. Once again, a therapist of some sort can be helpful during this process.
If you are not careful, guilt can become a dangerous cycle, which leads you to a worsening addiction. There are four steps you can take to break the cycle of guilt. First of all, you need to recognise that feelings of shame and excessive guilt are not productive.
Second, you can ask for the forgiveness of anyone who you have hurt. Third, let go of things that are out of control, whether they are in the past, present, or future. And finally, forgive yourself; this can be a long process, but it is extremely important.
There are a few benefits of guilt for social functioning and growth. First of all, it can help people avoid wrong or immoral behaviours. Two, people can use guilt to explain what they are feeling or need. Finally, guilt can help people be more attentive to each other and each other’s needs.
Guilt and dealing with said guilt are extremely healing. It can be a long and difficult process, but if a person accepts their guilt, make amends, and then let go of past mistakes that they made before the got sober, they will feel more empowered and have better self-esteem.
It can be really hard to work through the process for both the person with the addiction and their loved ones, so it is beneficial to have a third party like a therapist help.