Shame and guilt stunts addict, alcoholic from accepting addiction treatment

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | By JP Emerald Coast

What’s holding you back from entering into addiction treatment? Is it shame, guilt or both?

Many people know they need treatment for drug and alcohol abuse or other addictive behaviors. Yet few end up seeking addiction treatment. The latest statistics show that 23.2 million people aged 12 and older need treatment for drug addiction, but only about 2.4 million — slightly more than 10 percent — actually receive treatment. And yes, cost and availability are all factors in seeking addiction treatment, but perhaps more than anything else, the shame and stigma of admitting a drug or alcohol problem is what keep people away from the help they need.

What Is Shame?

Shame is a feeling we get when we know we’ve done something wrong. It’s a feeling of pain because we know we haven’t lived up to our full potential. Most people develop a sense of shame or guilt in childhood as parents or other caregivers teach right from wrong.

When people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, they tend to have a lot of shame. Drug and alcohol addiction make people behave in ways they aren’t proud of, such as avoiding responsibilities to get high, stealing to get money to pay for drugs and other uncharacteristic actions.

Unfortunately, shame starts a vicious cycle. People who need addiction treatment often take drugs to relieve a strong sense of shame, but taking drugs leads to even deeper feelings of shame. They self-medicate to get over these feelings, but the cycle continues until it’s broken by getting help.

Society conditions us to believe that if we were strong enough, we’d have the willpower and guts to quit taking drugs or drinking. People who have never been addicted don’t understand that no amount of willpower, desire or wishes can help you kick drugs or alcohol.

Addiction Is a Disease

The first step to releasing shame, guilt and fear around your addiction is to understand that addiction is a disease. As with any disease, you can’t control it just by thinking it through or wishing it away.

Just as you can’t nag or shame someone with diabetes into controlling his or her blood sugar, you can’t nag or shame yourself into controlling your drug addiction. Addiction affects the body, mind and spirit. You need professional help to recover.

There’s no shame in admitting you have diabetes, right? If you have a progressive, degenerative disease, you go to a doctor and get help for it. You take medications the doctor prescribes, and you make lifestyle changes to manage your health.

The same goes for addiction and recovery. Drug and alcohol addiction requires you seek help from a treatment center such as JourneyPure Emerald Coast. You need to take the “prescribed” course of treatment. That treatment may include detox, 12-step meetings, therapy and more. It’s the same kind of addiction treatment program any progressive disease requires.

To get over feelings of shame and accept addiction treatment, you need to understand at a gut level that your problems with drugs and alcohol aren’t a lack of willpower. You’re sick, just as a diabetic is sick. Accepting treatment for an illness shows you care about yourself. There’s no shame in admitting you have a problem. Seek help from JourneyPure Emerald Coast and relieve that sense of shame once and for all. You’re worth it.


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