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How Can I Overcome Shame and Guilt in Recovery?

Negative self-perception can hinder the addiction recovery process- especially guilt and shame regarding the past. Learning how to process these feelings can help you to leave the emotional baggage of your past behind and move forward in addiction recovery. Letting go of the past is vital to your success in recovery and beyond.

Learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made in active addiction and those you will make in the future. Holding on to these moments only anchors you to the past, preventing your growth and progress. Focusing on these emotions can be a hidden trigger to relapse. Instead, working through these emotions with the guidance of addiction recovery specialists will allow you to leave your past behind and create a more positive future. Although it may be easier said than done, focusing on the negative will only make you feel more pessimistic about the journey ahead of you. There’s a lesson to be found in everything you’ve experienced up to this point: find it. Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean pretending the past never happened; it means taking back control of your future. Everyone has something in their past they aren’t proud of- that’s okay, it’s perfectly human. Learning from your mistakes will allow you to heal and grow as an individual. You can also learn from others’ experiences to prevent you from having to make certain mistakes yourself.

Realize that to overcome shame and guilt, you’re going to have to talk about it. Owning your emotions and identifying the sources gives you the control you need to let go and move on. Without the crutches of drugs and alcohol, you can approach the underlying causes of addiction with a clearer mind and work through them rather than burying them. Attending individual and group therapy sessions gives you the opportunity to speak about the shame and guilt that you may still experience in a nonjudgmental environment with people who understand. Don’t allow the shame and guilt of your past to keep you silent or stop you from receiving treatment. The steps you take now are your first toward a future you can be proud of.

Feeding into the feelings of shame and guilt about past substance abuse will only hinder your recovery. Instead, focus on all the positive you’ve gained since you began your journey of recovery. Letting go of your past and receiving the proper treatment for your addiction will allow you to focus on ways to improve your life. Although it may be difficult to see the positive during challenging moments, realize that you have control over how you react and how these reactions affect your life moving forward.

How have you handled shame and guilt in your recovery journey? Leave your tips in the comment section!