The Role of Shame in Addiction

Shame in Addiction

Addiction is defined as a chronic medical condition that involves complex interactions between brain circuits, the environment, genetics and a person’s life experiences according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Addiction doesn’t discriminate and can affect people from all walks of life. The first instinct of someone who suffers from addiction is to deny there is a problem. The more a person denies their addictive behavior, the worse the problem gets.

The Interaction of Shame and Addiction

Shame affects each individual differently. People cope with the feelings of shame in different ways. Some people may strive to be perfect so that they stay above reproach. Others may turn to ways that can be very destructive and lead to drug and alcohol addiction as a way to cope with the negative feelings. Shame can make you feel like a failure or that you’re not good enough. It often leads to depression and can go hand-in-hand with mental illness. Shame also accompanies those who are actively suffering from an addiction because they fear being judged by friends and family.

How Shame Can Prevent an Addict from Seeking Help

When a person feels shame, it can be difficult for them to seek help. Because an addiction is almost impossible to overcome without help, it is imperative that an addict seek help and avoid trying to deal with their addiction on their own. Not only is it almost impossible to overcome addiction without help, it can also be dangerous to do so. It is difficult for an addict to look past the negative feelings that are brought on by being ashamed of their affliction. This often prevents one from seeking the necessary help needed to get better.

Overcoming Feelings of Shame

One of the biggest hurdles for someone suffering from an addiction is to overcome the shame they are experiencing. Those who love an addict just want to see them get better. It is important to come to terms with feelings of shame in the following ways:

Being Kind to Yourself

Speak to yourself kindly as you would to a friend. Call yourself out for negative thoughts. Keep a journal of your thoughts and write out your positive thoughts and keep them where you can read them when you need a reminder of those thoughts.

Providing Yourself with a Safe Space

Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member or counselor, you need a safe space to unload your thoughts and feelings. Once you’re able to speak your truths and reflect on your feelings, you’ll feel a lot more optimistic about the situation.

Developing a Strong Support Network

It is essential to have a trusted support network. This can involve trusted family, friends or others who have been through addiction. These are the people you will lean on to help you through a difficult time. Such a network will help you face negative emotions that accompany shame associated with addiction and will also give you a sense of belonging.

Help Is Available

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics has found that over half the population aged 12 or older has used illicit drugs at lease once. With the prevalence of drug use, it is no wonder so many people become addicted. If you are ready to take the next step in regaining control of your life, contact Hickory Treatment Centers today.

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If you have tried to stop using alcohol or drugs on your own, you may feel that sobriety and clean living seem far away. However, with the help of caring staff members and a safe, structured environment, you can receive the guidance you need to fight cravings and regain control of your life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our admission staff or learn more about our healing programs.