Not unlike the cravings for substances that can come in waves after treatment, the shame and guilt associated with addiction can return at any moment. The shame may come simply from memories of people, places, and other things that trigger guilt or shame about our past, it can be difficult to keep those feelings from starting that negative thought process all over again. It is not enough to recover only from substance use. Many must also recover from the shame and guilt caused by addiction.

Getting Clean from Guilt

Feeling guilt or remorse for actions in the past is human. In fact, it would be more disconcerting if you had never felt any guilt at all for things you did to harm others while in active addiction. Guilt does serve a purpose; it is meant to trigger your conscience and help you to make better decisions. Dwelling on guilt, however, is destructive.

Guilt that stays and swarms in your mind touches all of your thoughts and increases the number of negative thoughts and actions in your life. It becomes a downward spiral into self-blame, shame, and more. In order to recover from substance abuse, you will need every tool you can have at your disposal, including the ability to get clean from your guilt.

Sobriety from Shame

Shame is the internalizing of guilt, blaming yourself or judging yourself as inadequate, inferior, or broken for what happened in the past. This serves no positive purpose in your healing, and can in fact put you on the fast track to relapse. That is why it is so important to practice sobriety from shame, meaning to remain abstinent from shame and forgive yourself. 

Part of being in recovery is to live in the present, and living with shame is not in the moment. It is a judgment of yourself and your past actions that can even push away others who want to help and support you. Practicing mindfulness can help you to develop sobriety from shame. Mindfulness is a tool that can help pull you back into the present anytime feelings of shame creep back into your mind.

Replacing Negative Thoughts with Self-forgiveness

Crucial to healing from addiction is to remove negative self-thoughts. When you replace those thoughts with self-forgiveness, there is no more room for guilt or shame. Forgiving yourself is one of the most difficult things to do, because stigma, guilt, shame, and other experiences create so many negative thoughts that you tend to believe them. When there are others in your life who are dysfunctional or feeding your negative thoughts, it can be even more difficult.

Peeling back the layers of pain and shame in recovery is like peeling an onion. Yet as you dig deeper, you will realize that you are not what those years of shame and pain said you were. You may have made poor decisions in the past, and there may be consequences that remain. But as you let go of the judgments and negative images of yourself, you can truly forgive yourself and move forward.

Letting Go of Things Beyond Your Control

Unless there has been some kind of scientific breakthrough that allows time travel, you cannot change the past. You can affect the future, you can control your own words, actions, and reactions in the present and going forward. But there is so much more that you cannot control than there is that you do have control over. Sometimes in addiction, it is easy to hide behaviors and actions behind the futile attempts to control the things you can’t. Letting go of the worries and efforts allows you to be free of the lack of control you may feel in some cases.

When you let go, you are surrendering what others think of you, how they react to you, the consequences of everything around you. The irony is that by surrendering all of the things that you cannot control, you take back control of all of the things you can.

Preventing a Relapse of Shame

A lifetime of guilt and shame is a habit of negative thinking that is difficult to break, much like substance abuse. And much like recovery from addiction, it is easy to relapse into those old habits of negative thought patterns. You can stay sober from shame by using the tools you learned in treatment like mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills, and by continuing with therapy and other mental health treatments. Recovery from substances is a holistic process that involves the mind, body, and spirit. Maintaining your recovery from guilt and shame is a part of that successful recovery.

Recovering from guilt and shame is part of your overall recovery from substance abuse. Just like that recovery, there can be waves of guilt and shame that come and go just like the cravings for substances do. To stay sober from shame, to stay clean from guilt, you will need to continue to forgive yourself, let go of the things that you cannot control, and replace negative thinking with mindfulness. You can learn how to recover from guilt and shame as a part of your addiction recovery at Rancho Milagro Recovery. Our staff can help you learn what it means to surrender while actually gaining control of your life again. Call us at  (951) 526-4582. Our beautiful Southern California ranch features loving animals and compassionate people to help in your healing. Get back to nature as you cleanse your mind and body from not only substances, but also guilt and shame. 

Call Now For Help Check Insurance Benefits
Who Answers?