On Shame and Addiction
Many people hide their addiction problems from friends and family because of feelings of shame regarding their condition. Indeed, shame is one of the most common feelings that deter people from seeking treatment for substance abuse problems. Shame and Addiction
Shame is a complicated emotion and it is not the same as guilt. To understand the difference, consider how we act differently in response to each emotion. For example, guilt more or less rings of “I feel bad about doing that” whereas shame invokes feelings like “I’m so stupid” or “No one will understand” rather than simply owning up to a mistake. Moreover, feelings of shame tend to make us hide and disconnect from others rather than admitting responsibility.
Shame can somewhat healthy or can be destructive. Healthy shame keeps us grounded and is a good starting point for seeking help for addiction. Imagine standing in front of a mirror and examining the person you have become.
But destructive shame that is deeply internalized occurs when the person feels inherently defective and it is not just a product of a mistake or admission. This type of shame is a fundamental sickness of the soul and more or less the basis for all addictive behavior.
The roots of this destructive shame can often be found in our childhood – abuse, neglect, adults who bring us to this feeling of unwantedness or unworthiness. Almost no one has internalized shame due to substance abuse who wasn’t “shamed” in some way as a child.
Deconstructing shame we have deeply internalized can be helped through the use of cognitively-behavioral therapy, 12-step-meetings, and counseling.
Letting go of this shame is critical to addiction recovery and can be a very painful process – however, it will ultimately be well worth it.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at 888-380-0342 for a free consultation.
~ Nathalee G. Serrels