Shame and Guilt in Addiction

Experiencing shame and guilt is a common part of addiction, recovery, and life itself. When you fixate on failed relationships, lost opportunities, or missed connections, it can become a never-ending cycle of negativity. However, this fails to acknowledge your full journey. 

If you begin to envision your life after recovery, you may start to see new possibilities. While you may not always be able to make amends, new opportunities will come. You can make new connections and focus on your enriched understanding of life having experienced its more gruesome side. This life experience will empower you to make changes in not only your life but also in the lives of others. So many people live through addiction and your personal experience will enable you to connect with this community positively. 

Something to remember when you feel overwhelmed by the shame and guilt of your addiction is that…

We All Make Mistakes

When you developed your addiction, you were doing the best you could with the tools at your disposal at the time. While this coping mechanism did not serve you long term, it made sense at the moment. You don’t have to rationalize past decisions and you can leave them in the past with the knowledge that we all make mistakes.

You Can Reinvent Yourself

To make space for change and you can always start anew. While, at some level, your past may inform your future decisions, it does not have to determine your next steps. You get to decide how you live your life and you always have a choice.

Life is a journey and the time you spend struggling with addiction is only one part of it. Having struggled yourself, you can better relate to others who have been through hardship. It will make you a more empathic individual. While shame and guilt are normal emotions to experience following or during addiction, they should not predominate in your thoughts about yourself. You can work through the discomfort and learn to accept your past or present for what it is.


Shame and guilt are common emotions to experience both in addiction and recovery. Some helpful reminders are that 1) we all make mistakes and 2) you can always reinvent yourself. So many people have regrets from decisions they made because of addiction. There is a way to work through those difficult emotions. At Valiant Living, we are trained in helping you process both your past and present. Our inpatient and outpatient facility located in Denver, Colorado serves men recovering from addiction. Also, our facility treats co-occurring mental illness. Through our team of experts, we can help you process all that you have been through. To learn more about how we can help, you can reach out at (303) 952-5035.