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Coping with Guilt and Shame

Guilt is one of the worst feelings in the world.  It’s that nagging, downward dragging voice in your head that constantly reminds you of every shameful thing you have ever done and every person you have hurt in the process.  Those of us in recovery know that guilt and addiction are a package deal. Once we become sober, it is natural to look back at our actions when we were intoxicated and feel regret and remorse.  If we didn’t feel those emotions, we wouldn’t be healthy, empathetic humans. But those feelings become a problem when they begin to consume us in a way that prevents us from finding happiness and hope in our sobriety.    It is crucial that you understand that overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame, if given enough power, are very detrimental to your recovery.  Using drugs and alcohol alters the chemical balance in our brains that regulates our emotions. Because of this chemical disruption, negative feelings such as guilt and shame can seem amplified during recovery while our brains are still in the process of finding a natural balance.  While you should always allow yourself to completely feel your feelings rather than fight or suppress them, you must also recognize that your feelings do not define you or determine your self-worth. Whether brought on by a chemical imbalance or a disturbing memory, these emotions are here to tell you that something inside you needs your attention and care.     In order to address these feelings, first find an addiction counselor or mental health worker to help you pinpoint why it is that you are feeling guilty. You may find that you are being too hard on yourself, or you may be told that you owe a few people some serious apologies.  Either way, once you seek outside support you can begin to do the work that will allow you to forgive yourself and move on. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Choosing recovery is the ultimate show of self-love and you can’t expect to be successful if you can’t first be kind to yourself.  

At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.