Shame is one of the main barriers to recovery from addiction – and can be used as further motivation to drink and to use.
It is painful place to be in, because it means we have acknowledged there might be a problem – but it is the shame that doesn’t allow us to seek help.
This shame keeps us alone, which is exactly how addiction thrives. An alcoholic does not simply ‘drink too much’ at a party, they drink in private, alone. The using can often be done in isolation and cuts them off from everyone and everything – fuelling their shame.
The biggest misconception around addiction? Is that it’s a question of willpower, a moral failing. This is simply not the case. Those with addiction suffer from a mental illness, an illness just like diabetes or heart disease. The only difference is this type of illness does not have a medical cure. Rather like diabetes, it can be managed – on a daily basis.
Our ethos is that abstinence, rather than control, is the most peaceful and achievable way to recovery.
Shame in an addict comes from the unforgivable and unacceptable things they have done, and the way they have lived their lives – affecting themselves and the people they love the most. Like all emotions, without it we are people without a conscience. However, the feeling of shame can be so crippling; the only way it can be removed is with a drink or drug. Shame can be used as further motivation to fuel one’s addiction.
However, there is another choice: a solution.
The addict can make the decision to tackle their shame head on; to acknowledge for themselves the way they have lived their lives and the things they have done. This is hugely powerful. These are the first steps to recovery – totally owning the way we have lived, so that we never repeat it again.
The opposite of addiction is connection – which is why coming to a rehab is crucial. By connecting and taking advice from professionals, our patients share their shame and leave it in the room with your therapist. Done thoroughly and with the right care, individuals can start to feel hopeful. they realise they are not alone, and have the certainty that they will never have to drink or use on those feelings again.
Those that go into a treatment centre truly believe they are the only people that have ever lived their life drinking, using and losing. Once in rehab, the patient discovers that they are not alone in their behaviour and their feelings. Many parents cannot believe that although they love their children so much, they cannot stop drinking for them.
Sharing their shame does not mean that they will never have a bad feeling about the past. In rehab, our patients do not drink or use, which means their feelings come back.
A lot of addicts have been using so long, that they have lost the art of communication, and though many can be successful in their professional life – they cease to grow spiritually and emotionally.
Communicating effectively and listening to others is the most powerful tool at our disposal. Addicts learn very quickly that they are not alone – that there is indeed a solution. Through changing old behaviours, a new and disciplined life can be lived.
This is why working with people with the same mental illness alongside the right professionals is key in recovery. The power of identification and sharing, as well as the appropriate care from specialists in addiction is how we recover.
If this article has raised further questions for you, or you just want to make a connection with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to help in whatever way that we can.