One of the reasons people continue to drink alcohol and use drugs addictively is because the shame they experience is often too big of a burden to carry. Turning to these mind-altering substances to numb these feelings might work in the short-term, but a person’s self-esteem and confidence will decline tremendously in the duration of the addiction. Addiction creates so much shame due to the questionable behaviors that one will carry out while going to any lengths to get loaded.
What Is Shame?
The feeling of being inadequate as a human being is what makes someone confront shame. Addictive behaviors result in self-loathing and persistent thoughts of not being able to measure up to others. A sense of inferiority is universal among people who lie, steal, and cheat, which are the behaviors that are often displayed when someone is drunk or high.
Continual substance abuse means more times that someone will act shady in their plight with drugs and alcohol. Life stressors such as financial woes, strained relations, and legal issues can give someone more initiative to act out through their addiction, resulting in shame.
How Does One Identify Shame?
Looking for shame can be challenging at times. Shame can go easily unnoticed as just another everyday emotion if life becomes chaotic enough. What is even more difficult is the myriad of ways there are to wreck someone’s self-esteem.
Acting out with scandalous behaviors, rejection, abandonment, believing opinions for the truth, or feeling defective are just a few of a long list of things that cause someone to feel shame. When these emotions coincide with drug and alcohol addiction, shame becomes even bigger and harder to escape.
Why Does Guilt Accompany Shame?
If someone has guilt associated with their shame, they will not feel any better because they have yet another negative emotion they are experiencing. The good news is that an individual knows right from wrong if they are feeling guilty. Guilt is triggered when someone feels remorse for something they did that they believe deserves punishment.
When a person does something that causes them shame, guilt may come next, which could be useful in their recovery if appropriately assessed.
Will Shame Always Be an Issue?
When someone is willing to work on their recovery, the shame will lessen as they become honest with their past. Talking about the shameful thoughts and behaviors with trusted others in recovery will help take power out of the negativity.
Although everyone makes mistakes in some capacity, someone dealing with drug and alcohol addiction alongside their shame will feel like they are the worst human in the world and carry that burden until they deal with the root cause.
What Is the Best Way to Combat Shame?
Accepting help with therapy and the 12-Step program will assist in combating the shame someone is encountering. Addiction may be the catalyst that brings shame to the surface, while recovery can evaluate the causes. Most likely, shame is deep-rooted in abuse or trauma that has been suppressed to cover up the suffering.
People will act according to the pain they are feeling because they may not know how bad they feel due to ignoring the anguish instead of looking at it. Drugs and alcohol counteract with shame in a way that makes addiction seem proactive.
Therapy and step work can help you take back authority over your shame and allow you to work through it and move on.
How Does A Person Redefine Their Self-Worth?
Addiction continuously steals the self-esteem of a person with each passing day. Getting their groove back in recovery is possible when they start believing that they are worthy of receiving good things regardless of what they did in the past. Adopting a high degree of self-worth is not easy to attain and will take some work once you decide you are worth the effort.
You can then see that you are deserving of recovery because you are ready to chip away at the negative image you portray of yourself by replacing it with a more favorable self-assessment. When you start believing in yourself, you will follow through much better in recovery because you will know you are worth it.
Can Shame Become A Strength?
The best part of working on your shame is the end result. When someone works through their issues, they can use the shame for something good. Instead of worrying about what others will think of them, they start owning who they are in their recovery when they surround themselves with others who have gone through their own shame.
When shame is acknowledged and used to help someone else, the negativity dissipates and turns into experience, strength, and hope. With one person helping another person as the cornerstone of recovery, giving confidence to another person becomes an asset in staying sober.
Changing the dynamics of shame in recovery is imperative. The past shame should be an indicator of where an individual will go back to if they do not stay sober. There is no reason that anyone should live in the shadow of shame any longer when the sunlight of the Spirit is shining upon them in sobriety.
Changing your thinking will alter your shame into something you get through to know that you never have to feel like that again.
Valiant Living provides a safe environment to explore the shame that you or a loved one has experienced an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Valiant Living fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information at (303) 536-5463.