Overcoming Shame & Guilt in Recovery

Overcome Shame and Guilt during Recovery


Addiction recovery is not an easy process. It requires you to undergo tremendous challenges and battle against your own self to overcome your compulsion towards the illicit drug of abuse.


Addiction recovery is a healing process. It requires you to learn to cope with these feelings and accept yourself for who you are and make an informed decision and efforts to make your life better.


While guilt can lead you towards positive change, it can also hinder it and drive you back towards the destructive path you once were on. Guilt and shame during drug recovery can be rather dangerous and contribute to relapse.


It’s normal and appropriate to feel guilt when you have done something wrong. If you have harmed someone, done something that violates your personal moral or religious values, or have done something you swore you’d never do again, guilt is the appropriate response.


Shame can be just as debilitating as guilt. Shame is a powerful feeling that often arises from guilt. However, it can be experienced independent of guilt. If someone bullies you or pressures you into feeling inferior because of what you did or what someone else did, that is shaming.


Shame can produce numerous negative feelings in a person. Here are a few examples of what someone dealing with shame might feel:








Feeling ashamed is not helpful in recovery, since it can hold a person back in achieving happiness and personal growth. Any focus on negative thinking about yourself reduces self-esteem and inhibits positive change.


How to manage feelings of shame and guilt during recovery.


1. Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes. If you continue to judge yourself for who you were before, remember that it is not your past that matters, but the choices you make today. When you decide to battle against your addiction you take the courageous decision to acknowledge your shortcomings and start fighting against them


2. What’s the Cause?

It is important that you identify the exact source that is feeding these negative feelings. Sometimes these negative feelings come from an outside source. As far as friends and relatives go, in order to recover successfully, you have to step away from negative relationships. It will be much healthier for you to step out of that relationship, as difficult as cutting those ties may be. You need positive people around you who will encourage your recovery, not hinder it.


3. Apologise

I called my first year in recovery my ’apologetics year’. The past cannot be changed however; you can always try to fix things that have been wronged when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Guilt and shame often arise when you think of all those things you have done previously, and the people you may have hurt. To stop this feeling, find ways to approach these people and apologise for what you did. This can help you feel tremendously better.


4. Let it go.

Let go of what you cannot control.

This is an important thing to need to learn in recovery. There are a considerable amount of things that you cannot control or alter. Your past is being just one of them. What’s done is done. Holding on to it will only keep you from progressing in your present. You did what you could. Now it’s time to move forward towards a better life.


Choosing to fight your addiction is a monumental step of bravery. Don’t let factors such as guilt and shame get in the way because there is nothing to be ashamed of. Making mistakes is what makes us human, so by accepting these mistakes and attempting to fix them show bravery and strength.

Do not let these emotions obscure your journey towards successful recovery.

Keep moving forward.

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