How Does Guilt, Shame, And Fear Hamper The Addiction Recovery Process?

How Does Guilt, Shame, And Fear Hamper The Addiction Recovery Process?

Addiction is a compulsive external search to solve an internal problem. Many individuals enter Addiction Rehabilitation Centers feeling that their success in substance abuse treatment is responsibility of the staff of the addiction program or the program itself. Many people remain aloof in addiction treatment, only agreeing to enter addiction rehabilitation to satisfy a legal directive or a family member who threatens to leave or some other pending crisis. Any individual who enters addiction rehabilitation for any other reason than a personal commitment to ceasing their substance abuse and achieving true and total sobriety is destined to fail.

The external search to feed one’s addiction is the way of fear, fear is the fuel that fires the motivation to use substances. Many individuals do not recognize the role of fear in sustaining the motivation to use substances. If the individual enters addiction rehabilitation,he/she must quickly recognize the need to address fear as a factor in sustaining one’s addictive behavior.

Individuals experiencing addiction are ridden by feelings of guilt and failure. Nobody ever anticipated as a child that they would grow to become addicted to substances and it is a difficult thing to accept. Many people find early comfort in denial, choosing not to acknowledge the impact of addiction on their lives, but denial soon meets reality as one’s life begins to fall apart.  Guilt is the belief that we have done something wrong, bad, unforgivable. Guilt is based upon the belief that the past is inescapable, and this dooms the future.As guilt increases, the individual not only believes that they have done something bad, they begin to think that they are bad.

Shame is an emotion that also plays an intricate role in the individuals continuing use of substances the guilty person says, “I feel guilty for something I have done”; the shame filled person says, “I feel shame for what I am”.The distinction is important because people can apologize, make restitution, make amends, and ask forgiveness for what they have done, they can do very little about who they are.A person feeling shame doesn’t even try thinking of forgiveness from others. In addiction rehabilitation when an individual feels shame at being addicted to substances they may see no reason to make any effort to change themselves because their thoughts tell them that they are no good. Shame is debilitating and must be addressed in addiction treatment.

Guilt can lead to corrective action, shame leads to despair and hopelessness. Addicted individuals usually have very low self esteem, when combined with feelings of guilt and shame it leads to isolation, hopelessness, and in many cases continued drug and/or alcohol abuse.