The Role of Shame in Recovery

the role of shame in recovery
Category: recovery

Shame is a complex emotion that often takes a larger-than-life role in the lives of people working to overcome a substance use disorder. During active addiction, you may have done or said things you knew were harmful, but still felt powerless to stop. When you are in recovery, these feelings can compound and make it harder to stay focused on your goals.

How to Productively Deal With Your Emotions

Since shame can be so painful, most people will do almost anything to escape from it. Drug use and drinking are maladaptive coping mechanisms many people use to avoid having to confront their feelings. During early recovery, you may be surprised by all the emotions that come bubbling to the surface. Without the familiar crutch of addictive substances propping you up, you might not know where to turn. 

Often, shame is one of the original drivers of addictive behavior. When you aren’t drinking or taking drugs, you may feel ashamed of habits you can’t control. Once you get trapped in this cycle, it can be challenging to find your way out. Here are four ways to embrace shame in recovery instead of running from it.

1. Don’t Live in the Past

It’s easy to get stuck reliving the worst parts of your addiction – who you harmed, what mistakes you made and the things you wish you could change. Still, you can’t allow your past to dictate your future. Accept the lessons your history has to teach you and use them to forge a new path forward.

2. Reclaim Your Identity

Deciding to seek substance use treatment is a brave step. It requires vulnerability, honesty and accountability to discover who you are without drinking and drugs holding you back. When you uncover your identity as a survivor, you can reinforce the message that shame has no place in your life.

3. Make Goals for Yourself      

In recovery, the potential for consistent growth is virtually unlimited. Setting realistic goals to improve your life is an essential component of maintaining lifelong sobriety. This activity requires you to envision your hopes for the future – a promising state of mind where shame no longer governs your life.

4. Transform Negativity Into Positivity

Stepping away from denialism and acknowledging the reality of your situation is a vital first step in your recovery. Stop being such a harsh self-critic, and try for positivity instead. Reframe your situation from the viewpoint of a compassionate friend or family member trying to help – wouldn’t they approach the situation with love and understanding? You should do the same when looking to heal yourself. Understand it’s OK to be imperfect, and don’t let your illness define you.

Are You Ready to Overcome Addiction?

Transforming your life in substance use treatment is a significant decision. It’s paramount to choose an environment that supports your goals and offers leading-edge solutions to challenges like co-occurring disorders, withdrawal symptoms, cravings and relapse triggers. Hemet Valley Recovery Center offers hospital-grade diagnostic services and licensed physician specialists in one accredited rehab center. Here, you’ll have 24/7 access to hospital-grade support services throughout your entire continuum of care.

Make the call that can change your life by contacting our knowledgeable admissions team today.