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For many people, addiction and shame go together. Shame is a natural human emotion that’s common in many scenarios, and it can be a major detriment to addiction recovery – in fact, shame can be the chief contributor to an addiction on the whole.

At Renaissance Ranch, our outpatient addiction treatment involves tactics for understanding and managing shame within the recovery process. Here are some basics on moving past shame.

Shame – A Powerful Emotion

Shame is always inside us, and we do our best to hide it whenever it tries to bubble to the surface. Most people will do almost anything to avoid feeling shame, even for a short period.

Within addiction, shame can be a vicious cycle. It’s often one of the drivers toward addiction and self-medication in the first place, but then can function as a reminder of the negative behaviors one is engaging in. Addiction can feel overwhelming once you’re trapped in this pattern, and it can feel like there’s no way out. Every time you give in to your addiction, the following takes place:

  • Your self-esteem goes down
  • You feel a sense of powerlessness
  • You lose control
  • You become angry at yourself or guilty
  • You begin to dislike or even loathe yourself

These factors can affect relationships, employment, finances and other areas. Shame will be reinforced each time you relapse and fail to stay clean. So how do you move past it?

Embrace Shame

Acknowledging the realities of your situation is the vital first step to addiction treatment, and this is true for shame as well. Stop judging yourself so harshly, and try for positivity instead. Put yourself in the shoes of a friend or family member trying to help – wouldn’t they approach the situation compassionately and with understanding? You should do the same when looking to heal yourself. Understand that it’s okay not to be perfect, and to feel these negative emotions.

You’re Not Your Addiction

Throughout the process, remind yourself that your addiction is not what defines you. All humans have strengths and weaknesses, and just because you’re struggling with a weakness doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause or other parts of your personality don’t matter. Focus on the positives, and accept that you’re not alone in your imperfections.

For more on dealing with shame during addiction recovery, or to find out about any of our programs, speak to the caregivers at Renaissance Ranch today.

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