How Guilt and Shame Fuels Addiction

How Guilt and Shame Fuels Addiction

In active addiction, we often get caught up in a cycle of guilt and shame about using drugs and our using behaviors. On some level, we recognize that this isn’t our true identity yet the grip of addiction is so tight, that we cannot simply stop doing the things that we feel guilty and shameful about. And then, we use again and more in order to numb ourselves from the feelings of guilt and shame. This is essentially the cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that shows how guilt and shame fuels addiction.

How Guilt and Shame Fuels Addiction

The guilt and shame from the past leaves us feeling unworthy of being loved. As a result of the lies we tell ourselves, we have learned to lie in order to cover up who we believe we really are, and then we act out in ways that this guilt and shame fuels addiction.

We view our wrong behavior or failings as a reflection of who we are, our true identity.

When we do something bad or make a mistake, we take that as evidence that we are flawed.

We are very hard on ourselves and so normal errors and mistakes are blown out of proportion and reveal our true nature, which is flawed.

We feel overwhelmed when we experience such a mistake because we think it reveals that something is terribly wrong with us.

We accept part of the blame when others hurt, wrong, or violate us.

We see ourselves as someone who deserves to be abused, punished, or treated poorly.

We believe the behavior or lifestyle is the natural to us as bad people and therefore that it is futile to avoid or stop shame-producing behavior, further fueling addiction.

Whenever we experience a normal human failing, make an honest mistake, or suffer a disappointment, it triggers a downward spiral of depression and addictive behavior.

We think that trying to change our life for the better is somehow living a lie or being hypocritical, instead as evidence that we can change.

We may appear to be shameless to others when, in fact we are being eaten up by shame and guilt.

We are eventually worn down to the point that we give in to our overwhelming shame and then act out in ways that show no sense of shame or guilt.

 The Cycle of Guilt and Shame

When someone is addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, it usually causes them to feel guilt and shame about their addiction. When we can’t stop our addictive behavior, we think it means that there is some sort of weakness or inability on our part that makes us unworthy. We become dependent on something outside of ourselves (alcohol and drugs) to give a sense of well-being. We feel weak and needy on this substance which causes us to feel ashamed of our weakness, and then in turn intensifies our neediness. Addiction creates a cycle of ever increasing addictive behavior resulting in guilt and shame which in turn motivates an increase in dependence on the addiction for comfort.





Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional stability in recovery is also known as emotional sobriety. Emotional sobriety is different than merely sobriety. Emotion stability in recovery is a set of skills that are absolutely vital to staying sober. It is the foundation upon which an individual will live their lives and continue the long-term journey of recovery. Emotional stability in recovery includes:

  • Being aware and at ease with emotions
  • Having a stable mood
  • Developing enduring and satisfying relationships
  • Having an optimistic outlook
  • Achieving a balance between body, mind, spirit, relationships and more
  • Feeling calm during times of stress
  • Coping with difficult emotions such as fear, hurt, sadness, and frustration

Emotional stability in recovery comes slowly over time. Just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol does not automatically give someone emotional stability. Those people who are addicts and alcoholics are often out of touch with themselves and how to take care of themselves emotionally. Emotional instability even once an addict or alcoholic is sober may be from loss, neglect, abuse, trauma, etc. Most addicts and alcoholics want to avoid emotions at all costs and this becomes glaringly apparent when they get clean and have to feel everything. Emotional stability is the want and need to feel emotions without having to use when normally an addict or alcoholic would. Even in sobriety addicts and alcoholics who are dealing with emotions can find themselves not necessarily getting high or drunk but engaging in emotionally unstable activities such as overeating, purging, gambling, promiscuity, etc. to try and achieve a sense of gratification or escape from their emotions instead of having the emotional stability in recovery to deal with them.

What is emotional stability in recovery so important?

  1. Emotional stability in recovery is going to allow an individual to avoid relapse
  2. It will allow a person to recognize and work with their emotions as teachers that are there to tell them what they need, whether their needs are being and what circumstances in life need to be changed in order to meet those needs and whether those needs are even healthy.
  3. Emotional stability in recovery is important because it is the development of confidence, satisfaction and resilience that only comes from dealing with emotions directly and effectively rather than using drugs or alcohol to deal with them.
  4. Emotional stability in recovery allows a sober person to become the person they want to be. Their actions are now able to be congruent with their morals and values as well as their aspirations for life.

Developing emotional stability in recovery take times and it does not in any capacity happen overnight. Emotional stability in recovery starts with having a full grasp of what recovery actually means and recovery doesn’t just mean staying clean or away from drugs and alcohol. Emotional stability in recovery is just that-stable emotions along with the end of all addictive behaviors. Recovery means being able to accept emotions and get out of pessimistic thinking without self-medication with substances, compulsive behaviors, sex, etc.

Emotional stability in recovery comes with practice and the want to progress on a daily basis towards a new way of living. Emotional stability in recovery is also more easily achieved with outside help and support group which is why it is highly recommended that individuals in recovery have a large sober network of people who they know. Emotional stability will come for all addicts and alcoholics if they are willing to put the work in.

Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?

Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?Are you taking your Recovery for Granted?

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

-Big Book of AA, pg. 85.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it mentions “resting on laurels” which means to be satisfied with what you have achieved and stop taking action in your recovery. It means taking your recovery for granted. This is a common problem among alcoholics, especially when they acquire some sober time and begin to feel comfortable.

For good reason, we pay a lot of attention to newcomers in recovery. They are the primary reason we have meetings. Because of this, however, if you have some sober time and are taking your recovery for granted, the signs may be more difficult to recognize.

Usually, the signs of taking your recovery for granted come long before a relapse. It is important to recognize these signs early on and take action to correct them.

1. Exhaustion- Allowing yourself to become overly tired, usually associated with overwork, is an excuse for not facing personal problems and frustrations.

2. Dishonesty- Dishonesty begins with a pattern of little lies, and then it escalates to self-delusion and making excuses for not doing the things you should be doing.

3. Impatience: You want what you want right now. You get frustrated when others aren’t doing what you think they should be doing or living the way you think is right.

4. Argumentative: You don’t let things go. No point is too small or insignificant not to be debated to the point of anger and submission.

5. Depression- You feel unreasonable, unaccountable despair. You don’t feel happy in your life.

6. Frustration-You feel controlled anger or resentment when things don’t go your way. You can’t accept the way things are.

7. Self-pity- You feel victimized, put-upon, used, or unappreciated. You become convinced that you are being singled out for bad luck.

8. Cockiness- You feel like you’ve “got this.” You know all there is to know about recovery, and you can go anywhere, including frequently going just to hang out in bars or with people who are drinking and doing a lot of drugs.

9. Complacency- You no longer see the value of a daily program, meetings, contact with other alcoholics.

10. Expecting too much of others- You wonder why people can’t just understand you or act the way you want them to act. You feel misunderstood and unappreciated.

11. Letting up on disciplines- You allow established habits of recovery-meditation, prayers, spiritual reading, AA contact, daily inventory, meetings to slip.

12. Forgetting gratitude- You start to lose sight of abundant blessings in your everyday life.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, you may be taking your recovery for granted. Take action now to get back on track.


How to fight emotional triggers in recovery

How to fight emotional triggers in recovery

How to fight emotional triggers in recovery

How to fight emotional triggers in recovery

Triggers are specific memories, behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and situations that jeopardize recovery. Triggers are signals you are entering a stage that brings you closer to a relapse. Triggers are the stimuli, the people, places, situations, emotional states, thoughts, etc. that can “trigger” an ingrained ritualistic response which in most cases is to get high. Learning to identify relapse triggers and especially the emotional intensity that they invoke can be an effective tool in how to fight emotional triggers in recovery.

If you really want to know how to fight emotional triggers in recovery then the best place you can start is by learning what they are. For instance, deep sadness or extreme excitement might be emotional states that trigger you. If you know those are your emotional triggers in recovery then you can begin to fight against them.

Once you know what your emotional triggers in recovery are you can then begin to set in a place a plan of action for yourself. A plan of action for fighting emotional triggers in recovery can consist of multiple different things. For instance say an emotional trigger in recovery for you is excitement. If you begin to feel that excitement and it makes you think about using you can have a plan that first consist of calling a sober support, second doing something to get your mind off of it. No matter what it is that you use to fight emotional triggers in recovery make sure that you are taking action. Change your state.

A good way to fight emotional triggers in recovery is to go for a run when you begin thinking about using. You could also choose to turn on some music and dance your heart out. You can go workout at the gym. You can go for a bike ride. You can meditate. You can read a book. You can really do whatever it is that works for you to fight emotional triggers in recovery as long as it’s something different than what you would normally do. A lot of the times when addicts and alcoholics feel emotionally triggered in recovery they don’t know why they are thinking about using and they have no idea what to do instead of go and get high. This can lead to relapse without the proper identification of what is going on and what to do when it happens.

This is why identifying what triggers you emotionally and then making a plan of action for yourself when emotional triggers pop up is the best way to fight emotional triggers in recovery. It is not easy to fight emotional triggers in recovery in fact addicts and alcoholics are hardwired to use in certain instances that’s why it’s good to have a plan in place before you are ever get triggered. Once you are able to implement your plan to fight emotional triggers in recovery multiple times it will get easier to ward off. If you make a habit of fighting your emotional triggers in recovery eventually it won’t be so difficult and then you may even find you aren’t triggered by the emotional states at all now.