Shame is one of the most powerful emotions because it has to do with remorse and inadequacy, common motivators for substance use. Shame is a feeling that your whole self is wrong – it’s not necessarily related to a specific behavior or event. Shame also commonly overlaps with guilt, which is the feeling you get when you do something wrong.

While pretty much everyone feels shame at some point, some people experience it more often. This emotion can cause you to feel defective and damaged beyond repair. Feelings of shame can greatly influence your decision to start using or restart using substances. This is why it’s important to understand shame and how it affects addiction recovery in Newport Beach.

What is Shame, Exactly?

Shame is a negative emotion, but it stems from our survival as a species. Without shame, you might not care to follow laws or cultural norms. Since we are social creatures who want to be accepted by others, shame is an evolutionary tool that keeps us in check.

However, shame can become a problem when it’s internalized and causes you to look at yourself harshly. Your inner critic might tell you that you are worthless, bad and have no value. When shame starts to impact your sense of self, it becomes toxic and can put you at risk for depression or substance abuse.

Some of the signs that you are experiencing shame include:

  • Feeling rejected
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Feeling like you have little purpose
  • Worrying about what others think
  • Needing to have the last word
  • Replaying embarrassing interactions
  • Wanting to shut people out

Where Does Shame Come From?

Keep in mind that shame is a natural, normal feeling that we all experience from time to time. But if you are dealing with toxic shame that is leading you to be unhappy with yourself, there may be a reason for this. Some of the risk factors that lead to toxic shame are:

  • Traumatic events, like domestic abuse
  • Insecure attachment to friends or family
  • Negative stigma of mental health issues
  • Enduring harsh parenting
  • Parental substance use

What is the Role of Shame in Addiction?

Shame occurs when you blame yourself. It plays an important role in the onset and continuation of addiction.

Often, the cycle goes like this: guilt causes addiction and addiction causes shame. As you experience the powerful emotions associated with shame – depression, loneliness, embarrassment – you’re more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to ease the burden.

Let’s say, for example, that you experienced childhood trauma. You blame yourself for the trauma and seek substances to ease the guilt. Eventually, drugs and alcohol cause you to do things that you’re not proud of. It’s a catch-22, because to deal with the shame, you continue using drugs or alcohol.

Not only can shame fuel addiction, but also it can disrupt a drug rehab program in Newport Beach. Studies show that higher rates of shame are linked to poor recovery outcomes, increased rates of relapse and shorter periods of abstinence. It can also trigger other co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.

Is it Possible to Overcome Shame?

Yes, it is possible to reduce shame and guilt. If you are in treatment for a substance use disorder, behavioral therapy will help you understand your feelings, address the sources of your shame and shift your attitude.

Here are some of the things you will work on during your time in a residential treatment center in Newport Beach:

  • Face the root of your shame. It’s important to understand your feelings and where they are coming from.
  • Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Observe your thoughts, but avoid overreacting to them.
  • Give yourself compassion. Everyone makes mistakes at times. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t get stuck in them.
  • Recognize when you’re feeling shame. Learn to identify when you’re feeling shame. This will help you deal with it rather than internalizing it.
  • Get support. Talk therapy can help you discover the root of your shame and how to deal with it in healthy, productive ways.

Get Help for Addiction and Feelings of Shame

Shame is a powerful emotion that can become toxic. If you experience toxic shame, it can put you on a path to substance use to escape the pain. The more you use drugs or alcohol, the more shame you feel, which starts a painful, overwhelming cycle.

To heal from addiction and the shame that accompanies it, you’ll need a Newport Beach drug rehab program. Newport Beach Recovery Center offers both residential and outpatient treatment services. We use evidence-based therapies to challenge negative thinking and help clients discover new ways of thinking about the past.

To learn more about our approach to treating substance use and mental health disorders, contact Newport Beach Recovery Center today.