One of the reasons people struggling with addiction are reluctant to enroll in rehab is that it means the people in their lives will find out. While seeking addiction treatment is a personal experience, there are people you will have to tell. These people, such as family members and employers, will be affected by your absence as you go through the treatment process. This can cause you to feel ashamed in the sense that you have let the people in your life down, so it’s important to recognize these feelings as they occur.
Addressing the shame you feel is important because it can lead to future substance abuse, causing your addiction to worsen. While some shame is a normal response to a situation, it can become toxic for alcohol and drug addicts when it serves as a trigger to use again. If you can recognize shame as it occurs and use healthy coping mechanisms, that emotional response won’t have a strong hold over you any longer.
Learn How to Separate Shame From Guilt
While it’s easy to mistake shame for guilt and vice versa, these are two very different emotions. Guilt is a feeling that’s caused by a specific action, which had a negative effect on another person. It can be caused by an action or by words, but, in either case, it resulted in emotional or physical harm to another person. While it may not be easy, you can alleviate guilt by making amends for the harm you caused. Sometimes, it’s enough to apologize, but, in other cases, it’s necessary to take steps to correct your action.
You may repay money that you stole, pay to have damaged property repaired, or perform some other form of restitution. Toxic shame can’t be alleviated so easily, because you haven’t really caused anyone harm. In essence, shame is a feeling that’s caused by the emotional harm we do to ourselves. It’s the result of feeling unworthy of someone else’s love, or feeling that you betrayed the trust of an employer. Shame involves an internal conflict that’s better addressed in therapy when it becomes severe or debilitating.
How Does Shame Affect Your Rehab Treatment?
Shame is often a contributory factor in driving people towards addiction, causing them to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. When they achieve the euphoric sensation that’s caused by substance abuse, the feelings that shame produces are minimized, or they may disappear altogether. This drives the individual to use substances more frequently, which leads to the cycle of addiction. Each time the euphoric sensation takes higher doses to achieve and lasts for a shorter time until the individual either overdoses or seeks help at a rehab treatment center.
Once an individual begins rehab, they will have to start living a clean lifestyle, which means those feelings of shame will return. Since they were never resolved in a healthy, effective way, the feelings will persist and will likely feel worse. That unresolved shame can lead to poor self-esteem and mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. As a result, rehab treatment will have to involve mental health counseling in addition to the addiction recovery program.
A Few Reasons to Dismiss Your Shame
Whether you’re still struggling with addiction, or you’re on the road to recovery, recognizing that you need help to stay clean is no reason to feel ashamed. Once you started using drugs and alcohol, those chemical substances caused physical and chemical changes to occur in your brain. This means your brain was rewired to depend on the substances you were using, so your continued use of the substance was out of your control. Even your initial use may not have been your choice. Research has found that that addiction is a hereditary condition in 40-60% of cases. If you still feel ashamed that you need rehab, remind yourself that yours isn’t a rare or uncommon situation.
Millions of people across the country have successfully completed treatment, or are currently enrolled in rehab treatment programs. Since everyone is affected differently by substance use, it’s safe to say many more people use drugs and alcohol than those who end up needing treatment. Seeking help is a sign of strength and wisdom because it shows that you were able to recognize your problem, and you weren’t too proud to ask for help. If you are ready to begin treatment, you can call our counselors at 772-266-5320. We’re standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions. We can help you begin the treatment program that will best help you start a clean and healthy road to recovery.