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Letting Go of the Shame of Addiction

young woman covering her face with both hands in shame against blurry background

young woman covering her face with both hands in shame against blurry background

More often than not, addiction and shame go together. Whether it’s a struggle with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or even food, there’s going to be some form of shame associated with it.

We can’t help feeling shame because its part of the human predicament.

If you’ve been trying to get past your addiction for some time, the shame you’re feeling might even feel more intense. It’s really unfortunate as shame can be very powerful and can even be the chief contributor to your addiction.

Shame is Deeply Personal

Shame is always locked away inside us, and we do our best to hide it as it’s an extremely painful emotion. Most people, regardless of where that feeling comes from, will do almost anything to make it go away, even it’s only for a short period.

It’s a vicious cycle as shame might have driven you to addiction (and self-medicating with substances) in the first place. Substances can make you feel better for a little while and this, in turn, reinforces the addictive behavior.

But soon after, the shame of giving in to addiction sets in, and then you turn to self-medicating again to make the feeling go away.

Once you get trapped in this pattern, you can feel hopelessly overwhelmed within your addiction. Every time you give into your addiction, the following happens:

  • Self-esteem takes a beating
  • Sense of powerlessness
  • Experience loss of control
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Self loathing

You might even feel worthless and hate yourself for giving into your addiction over and over again. What’s even worse is that it will go on to affect your relationships, employment, finances, and it can even mentally scar you.

The shame will be reinforced time and gain when you relapse and fail to stay clean. Let’s face it; society is going to be hard on you and judge you for your addiction anyway. So it’s really sad that addicts themselves add to it with feelings of shame.

So how do you get passed it?

Acknowledge and Embrace Your Shame

The road to recovery starts with acknowledging your addiction. But for positive progress, you have to also acknowledge the pain and shame of your addiction.

It’s very difficult to do, but it’s not impossible as you can break the cycle of self-condemnation in time. You have to stop judging yourself harshly for the recovery process to go smoothly.

Think about it for a minute. What if you were helping a loved one struggling with addiction?

Wouldn’t you be understanding? Compassionate? Offer support?

If you would do that for someone else, why wouldn’t you deserve the same?

You’re Not Your Addiction

It’s time that you accepted that your addiction doesn’t define you. You need to acknowledge this fact to overcome the shame of addiction.

We’re all human and that makes us a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Just because you’re struggling with addiction, other aspects of your personality didn’t just cease to exist.

So it’s time to admit to yourself that you’re not this subhuman or a loser or whatever else you have been telling yourself over the years.

Focus on the positives as your weaknesses can be overcome; they don’t have to be permanent. Accept that we’re all imperfect and you’re not alone. Many others are going through the same struggle, and they’re trying to come out of it just like you.

Ask for Help!

Asking for help will be the first step to experiencing all that we’ve said above for yourself. See it with your own eyes.

There are people out there who can provide support, know your personal pain, and may have even shared the same experience. Letting go of the shame you’re feeling is possible; strength can overcome weakness. All it takes is baby steps in the right direction.