“Her shame about the addiction seemed to be more burdensome and harmful to her than the alcohol itself.” —Joe, son of an alcoholic
Debilitating shame can feel like an inseparable component of addiction, but it does not have to be a part of your recovery.
One of the dictionary definitions for the word recovery is “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.” Consider your addiction recovery to be your journey of regaining possession of the person that you used to be, or even a better version of that person.
What it is about addiction that causes you shame will be a question that only you can answer. Rarely is it straightforward. Shame will often have many layers. It is normal to continue to uncover these issues even after recovery treatment. What matters the most is that you are working on them.
There is one component of addiction that many people (too many) struggle with: its societal stigma. This stigma is similar to the ones surrounding mental illnesses, as they often are built upon the misinformed myths that purport these biological illnesses to be nothing more than immoral, irresponsible, or selfish voluntary choices.
Anyone who has struggled with addiction knows that if that was all that it is, it wouldn’t be so challenging to recover from. Sadly, knowing that the source of the shame comes from a place of ignorance does not always help in resolving it.
For some people, addictions are developed in response to feelings of failure, low self-esteem, despair, and hopelessness. It is too easy to see how guilt and shame can feed off of those feeling already very heavy internal struggles.
Understanding where your shame is coming from is another reason why it is so crucial to uncover and process whatever is lying at the root of your substance abuse while you are in recovery treatment. It is in resolving these inner issues that Aviary’s many-faceted treatment approach is very effective (e.g. cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy, trauma-informed approaches, and post-recovery therapy).
Remember that addiction is similar to mental illness in that when it has control over you, you are not yourself. You do not have to remain chained down to the choices and mistakes of your past—that is part of the beauty of recovery.
You are the one in control now. Sobriety is all about embracing every day to the fullest and becoming the person that you want yourself to be.