How Guilt and Shame Prevent Treatment for Addiction

There is no doubt that drugs and alcohol addiction can ruin lives. However, it is less well known that guilt and shame prevent many people from seeking addiction treatment. It is not unusual for therapists to hear clients say, “I am not an addict, I do not need help,” or “I can stop at any time I want.” Yet these are the same people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. They know they need help, but they’re too embarrassed and ashamed to ask for it. When it comes to drug and alcohol addiction, many people feel guilty and ashamed. It is possible that they feel unworthy of treatment or that they have failed themselves and their families. This may prevent them from seeking treatment. We will discuss how guilt and shame play a role in addiction, preventing people from seeking treatment. We will also offer some advice on how to cope with these feelings and get the help you need.

The Influence of Guilt and Shame in Asking for Help

Two of the biggest barriers to seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction are guilt and shame. Often, guilt comes from the belief that we have done something wrong, while shame is a belief that we are somehow flawed or defective. Having these beliefs can prevent us from seeking help, as we may feel that we do not deserve it. We may even deny having any problem at all and struggle in secrecy with addiction. How recovering is always possible. There are many resources available to assist you–from detoxification to therapy, from seeking a therapist to signing up for a rehab program. You not only deserve to get the help you need to heal and turn your life around, but it’s also readily available for the asking.

Most people try to avoid feeling guilt and shame. Guilt and shame usually come after doing something harmful or embarrassing. Those with substance use disorders experience guilt and shame differently. Guilt occurs when you feel bad about something you did. Shame occurs when you feel bad about yourself. You are not alone if you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Many people suffer from addiction and feel guilty and ashamed. Fortunately, there are recovery options available. Reach out to a therapist, counselor, or clergy member to learn about outpatient or inpatient rehab that can support your recovery. There is help available.

The Impact of Guilt and Shame in Rehab

While guilt is about what you did, shame is about who you are as a person. Shame motivates you to hide and to withdraw, while guilt motivates you to make things right. When you feel guilty, you demonstrate that you have a conscience and want to make things right. Shame is harmful because it can result in withdrawal, isolation, and addiction. If you are struggling with guilt or shame, remember that guilt is helpful, and shame is harmful. If you need help managing these emotions while in rehab, find a therapist or counselor or attend a group therapy session.

The stigma of addiction is one of our worst enemies, and ending it is central to everything that rehab does. In contrast, guilt is a healthy emotion that allows for empowerment and ownership. Guilt influences behaviors, and behaviors can be modified. In fact, guilt is one of the main motivators for people in recovery to stay sober and clean. If you’re feeling guilty about your addiction, don’t despair–it’s a sign that you’re on the right track. In everyday life, guilt is a dysfunctional emotion; however, in rehab, it can be interpreted positively to improve treatment outcomes.

Feelings of guilt and shame may make it difficult for you to get the help you need or to reach the treatment outcomes you desire. We can help you on your recovery journey by providing you with resources and support. We are here to assist you. Get the help you deserve by calling 833-820-2922.