For many struggling with substance misuse, shame is a familiar feeling, especially when it comes to looking inward and becoming honest in the progression of addiction. Shame may also come up for those who are trying to recover from substance abuse or are seeking help as it can unnecessarily manifest in times of healing. Dealing with shame in therapy can help address underlying co-occurring disorders that can cause setbacks and even relapse.
Shame is a feeling of being unworthy, undeserving, or inadequate. While the feeling of shame is relative to one’s own experience, experiencing any amount of shame can be debilitating. In fact, shame has been critically linked to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders.
While experiencing shame in addiction recovery is not unusual, it can cause unforeseen consequences. For this reason, AspenRidge Recovery works to address substance abuse while simultaneously providing therapy and treatment for underlying mental health disorders. For more information on our recovery programs contact us directly at 855-281-5588.
This article will explore dealing with shame in therapy during addiction recovery, and how to stop it impeding long-term recovery.
What Is The Difference Between Shame And Guilt?
Unlike guilt, shame is a feeling that can crop up long after a person has made amends with past experiences, still causing emotional turmoil.
It’s important to understand that feelings of shame do not necessarily mean that you’ve done something wrong. It can arise from any number of things and can be triggered by vulnerability and a perception a person may have of themselves.
Shame and guilt are often used synonymously with meaning not recognizing that there is a significant difference. There is no doubt that feelings of guilt and shame are overwhelming and can cause distress. These two feelings are commonly felt among people who suffer from substance use disorder and such feelings can lead many into a spiral of decline, which, in turn, leads to the progression of substance abuse within the spectrum of addiction.
What Is Guilt?
Guilt is characterized as a negative self-evaluation that arises out of past actions and behaviors. Guilt is usually associated with thoughts about what we did or didn’t do and whether our behavior was right or wrong. This type of thinking can be very destructive because it leads us to believe that we are bad people and therefore don’t deserve happiness.
What Is Shame?
Shame, on the other hand, is characterized as a negative evaluation of oneself based on social standards and expectations. Shame is often accompanied by feelings of unworthiness, inferiority, inadequacy, and worthlessness. People who feel ashamed tend to think they are flawed and worthless. They can become preoccupied with these beliefs and find themselves unable to move forward in life.
How Does Shame Affect My Recovery?
Dealing with shame in therapy and in addiction recovery can make the process even more difficult and strenuous. Research suggests that people who struggle with substance use disorder often experience feelings of shame. This can be due to the idea that they have disappointed themselves or others given the way in which substances have taken control. It can be particularly difficult for those who are working towards a journey of sobriety or are struggling with withdrawal symptoms. There are, after all, stages to addiction recovery and each one should be considered a monumental step toward long-term sobriety, even if negative feelings are occurring.
An article published in Psychology Tools asserts that those who experience high levels of shame may disconnect from others and consequently become less accessible. This can lead many to be exposed to the risk of relapse.
However, when feelings of shame occur people may begin to question themselves and their ability to change in a positive way. If you or someone you care for are experiencing these feelings, it’s not too late to seek help. Contact us at 855-281-5588 today.
Additionally, people who struggle with substance abuse may also have experienced trauma during childhood and throughout life. This can leave them feeling vulnerable and exposed. As a result, they may try to avoid situations where they might be reminded of their vulnerability.
How Can Therapy Help With Shame?
Therapy can help people overcome feelings of shame. Therapists can work with clients to identify the triggers for their feelings of shame and then provide strategies to cope with those triggers. For example, if a person has been struggling with substance abuse, they may learn how to manage their emotions better so that they aren’t triggered by substances.
If you or a loved one are struggling with feelings of shame, therapy can help you to understand why you’re feeling ashamed and provide you with the relevant tools and resources to help to deal with the shame. The goal is to help people develop coping mechanisms to deal with their feelings of shame.
Therapy can also help people recognize that they don’t deserve to feel ashamed. By helping them realize that they are worthy of love, acceptance, and respect, they will start to see themselves differently. This will allow them to stop blaming themselves for their past behavior and instead focus on changing their behavior.
Addiction Recovery Through Co-Occurring Treatment Programs
AspenRidge Recovery is a leading treatment facility that strives to help people suffering from substance abuse make a full recovery and get their lives back on track.
At AspenRidge Recovery, we recognize that the journey to sobriety is a challenging one that requires significant support from family and healthcare professionals. We offer leading treatment plans that work to provide you with the resources and support needed to achieve long-term recovery.
Wondering How To Deal With Shame?
Many who suffer from substance use disorder also experience the development of co-occurring disorders. Dealing with shame in therapy is not an unusual feat. Some steps individuals and families can take include:
- Bring shame into light during therapy sessions
- During therapy untangle the underlying causes of shame
- Disconnect what you do from who you are
- Recognize triggers
- Create a relapse prevention plan for substance abuse
Truth is, shame is a fear that can cause many to spiral and increase the risk of relapse. As a relapsing disease, addiction is difficult to predict. However, with the right tools and ongoing therapy that addresses underlying anxiety, depression, stressors, and other mental health issues can set you up better for long-term recovery.
For more information and advice, contact us today at 855-281-5588.