Shame and addiction can go hand in hand. While shame can help you turn away from dangerous or unbecoming behavior, it can make you turn to addiction as a way to escape. Soon enough shame and addiction can feed off on each other in an endless and destructive cycle.
Shame and addiction can often go hand in hand especially in a society when stigma and myths surrounding addiction are rampant.
Normally, shame is an emotion people feel and it can be helpful in such a way that encourages them to behave well, follow the norm, or keep out of harm’s way. However, shame can be such a big part of their lives that it can overpower them. This is why many try to escape shame by turning to alcohol and drugs, which may then lead to addiction.
What is shame?
Shame is a feeling that comes from doing or experiencing something improper, dishonorable or unpleasant and that this is something one feels responsible for. Usually, feelings of embarrassment and guilt are also experienced.
Shame can be helpful and positive because it helps moderate your behavior. Due to this, you may be less likely to commit the act again.
However, shame can be dangerous if it overtakes your whole state of mind.
1. It can spur maladaptive behaviors such as addiction
2. You may not have peace of mind
3. You’re afraid of creating new experiences
4. It can prevent you from forming healthy relationships
5. It can deteriorate your current relationships
6. You can’t make the most of life
7. You may not so willingly seek much-needed help
8. It can cause you to be violent towards others and to yourself
Shame and Addiction
People who feel shame due to untoward incidents in their lives or even a traumatic experience, may feel like they don’t deserve a good life. They would feel lack of motivation to make their lives better and therefore sink deeper into the destructive cycle of addiction. In this case, shame and addiction go hand in hand as they feed off each other.
Furthermore, it can prevent them from getting the help and treatment that they need. And in treatment, if shame is not addressed, it can lead to more problems that can turn them to relapse.
Overcoming Shame and Addiction
1. Talk to someone. It can be a trusted friend or even a professional
2. Look at the things that cause you shame from an objective point of view.
3. Seek peers who may have more or less gone through the same things you’ve gone through. Get help, inspiration, and support from them.
4. Recognize that experiencing the things you have experienced does not make you a failure.
5. Build your self-esteem by engaging in activities that you’re good at and things that you enjoy doing.
6. Stop the habit of always assuming the worst as this will always make you feel low.
7. Just because people think of you a certain way, it means you have to accept that and that their judgments are true.
8. Practice self-care.
9. Keep a journal or a gratitude list to see the bigger picture in your life and reflect on the good things that are going on in your life.