Overcoming Shame And Guilt In Outpatient Addiction Treatment:

If you are looking for community support, check out our alumni page for updates on sober events and gatherings or reach out to our alumni coordinator Kelly Butzer for more information. No matter where you are across the country, you could be certain a rehabilitation center is nearby. Finding one is not the problem, as is finding the right treatment center. With nothing to do but think, the defendant contemplates the pain that their crimes have caused in others. The defendant will think about how much grief he caused the victim’s family, and the shame will become more intense. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is still hope!

  • They may feel as if they’re undeserving of help and will attempt to hide the truth from their loved ones.
  • By methodically working through the structured steps, our clients learn to embrace and accept responsibility for their past actions.
  • Shame, at its core, can convince many that they are bad or wrong.
  • Guilt and shame can be especially overwhelming emotions during early recovery, and even throughout sustained sobriety.
  • When those thoughts of shame creep back in, remind yourself of your positive characteristics.

Imagine a person who has committed murder goes to trial. During trial, the defendant may acknowledge guilt for the crime committed. While the lawyers declare the evidence and witnesses state their testimony, the defendant’s guilt becomes more pronounced.

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Individual therapy or group therapy can help you to learn to accept the past and work towards doing better in the future. Dealing with shame is essentially the process of turning shame into guilt, then working to do better in the future. It requires accepting the past exactly the way it is, without judgment, then learning to forgive yourself for your previous actions.

  • Our unique Christian programming is designed to help people find sobriety in the face of addiction, alcoholism, and other challenges.
  • These negative emotions can hinder progress in recovery and make it difficult to maintain sobriety.
  • Often when people feel guilt or shame, they punish themselves with self-destructive actions.
  • You look at a functional MRI brain scan of somebody with an active addiction.
  • It can trigger a dependency on alcohol or drugs as a method of escape.

Be respectful of their journey—even when you get a response that’s less positive than what you’d hoped for. Regardless of the cause of the behavior, shame and guilt produce a vicious cycle that fosters continued substance use. Going through recovery, you learn how to deal with struggles and shame from previous experiences.


It infiltrates your thoughts and makes you think you’re a bad person, or that you’re defective. Shame can be caused by a wide range of factors — such as trauma or challenging social environments — and often causes feelings of deep inadequacy, lack of worth and the need to hide. It can trigger a dependency on alcohol or drugs as a method of escape. The shame-addiction pairing can find an addict in a precarious cycle, as their addiction may lead to increased shame and a growing need to hide their reality from others and even from themselves. Shame and guilt are often used interchangeably but are in fact not the same.

Overcoming Shame and Guilt in Recovery

In treatment, we’ve learned that the more someone accepts their guilt — which is about behaviors — the less shame they carry. If we can get someone talking about their behaviors, we can decrease their feelings of shame. And we increase their sense of empowerment which creates the openness for an increase in genuine self esteem. This tends to be a very uncomfortable process, both for the patient and for the family. There is a temptation for family members to jump in and protect their loved ones from feeling this pain. What if the guilt their loved one is experiencing becomes too much for them and they start using again?

How Do Shame and Addiction Interact?

Everytime that they consume their drugs or alcohol, a voice in the back of their head is telling them that they are bad. While many victims of trauma may suffer immense shame, which in turn, may drive them to consume drugs or alcohol, many addicts can begin to feel shame over their consumption of drugs or alcohol. In other words, substance abuse creates much more shame, especially in someone struggling with shame issues.

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 are only human and that you deserve compassion and understanding, just like everyone else does. Though these emotions generally feel negative, they serve an important purpose in leading a healthy social life. Guilt motivates us to apologize for our transgressions and make amends with those we’ve harmed.

Pick up the Phone and Start Battling Your Shame Today

Although they are very similar to each other, there is a distinct difference between guilt and shame. And I really want to recommend this to any parent or family member that’s viewing this, what Dr. McCauley talks about. He also is not only a physician, but knows addiction from the inside, and has committed to recovery for years and years, he’s made a huge amount of difference in the recovery world only to his story. But situationally, they may be because in addiction, shame is so much a part of it, it will be it really is sociopathic. If shame is the most stressful human emotion and shame leads me to freeze that how does that show up? Most of us aren’t aware of it, because it’s like I said, is the unthought No, but there are signs of it.

Where is shame held in the body?

Nonverbal Signs of Shame

Shame is connected to processes that occur within the limbic system, the emotion center of the brain.

Sometimes, a person may be ashamed of something they can’t change, such as a genetic condition or a perceived flaw in their appearance. Shame can also come from challenging social situations or trauma. Feeling ashamed can damage a person’s self-worth, bring about feelings of inadequacy and cause someone to hide from these feelings or other people. While these emotions are different, they often go hand and hand.

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Coping strategies work by enabling individuals to overcome their negative thoughts and feelings and replacing them with new and positive patterns. This process allows people to acknowledge their errors, learn from them, and develop new https://ecosoberhouse.com/ habits. Resilience, on the other hand, acts as a support system for individuals undergoing change or addiction recovery. It helps people bounce back from setbacks, protect themselves mentally from life events beyond their control.

In fact, shame can feel so strong that some people avoid social interactions or engage in risky behaviors in an attempt to numb the pain from it. Dwelling on what you have done isn’t constructive to your recovery. Remember that the actions causing your guilt and shame are in the past, and what matters are your choices and actions today. Spending time with people who love us unconditionally, who may have dealt with similar experiences and can identify with us, is key in letting go of guilt and shame. Talk about your recovery with your family, friends, or therapist — anyone who will listen without judgment.

Because Shame Makes You Hold onto Resentments

And if you drop down to the the abdomen area, you’re aware of this research. More recently, in fact, the guy that’s done the research is in India, it’s Steven porges. And he’s been looking at their cranial nerves that extend down from the head down into the body, the 10th cranial nerve called the vagus nerve, it extends all the way down into into the gut area.

Overcoming Shame and Guilt in Recovery

Meditation is a powerful tool for learning to stay in the present and lessen the feelings of guilt and shame. Focus on what your life is today, and where you are in recovery right now. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool for staying in the moment, managing negative emotions, and focusing on the positive. Shame and guilt make recovery more difficult, so developing coping skills is a key step on the path to sobriety. Those in recovery must learn to forgive themselves and deal with their guilt positively, otherwise, the patterns of addiction may continue.

Shame And Addiction

Talking about your journey helps you take back control of your life. Being open and honest about your feelings is a great way to process them and move on. It is a challenge that takes time, effort, and emotional maturity, guilt and shame in recovery but it is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. The front part of our brain is sometimes called the frontal cortex. The midbrain gets activated in active addiction, it shuts down the forebrain.

What is the psychological purpose of shame?

Shame is also theorized to play a more positive adaptive function by regulating experiences of excessive and inappropriate interest and excitement and by diffusing potentially threatening social behavior.