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.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/

http://alcoholism.about.com/