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How To Let Go of Shame in Addiction Recovery

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When you abuse alcohol and drugs, you often do things you would not have done if you were sober. Your addiction does not care what lengths you must endure fulfilling your cravings. As a result, your actions often have the consequence of experiencing guilt and shame once you begin recovery. Learning to let go of guilt and shame in recovery is as equally vital to your long-term success as practicing sobriety. 

Why Is There Guilt and Shame in Addiction?

It is easy to focus on the behaviors brought about by your addiction. For instance, you might have said hurtful things to those you love, or you could have engaged in drug-seeking behaviors where you were willing to exchange alcohol and drugs for sex. These types of actions that fueled your addiction trigger guilt and shame once you are no longer under the influence of alcohol and drugs. However, whether they struggle with addiction or not, everyone can experience guilt and shame. These feelings are amplified when you are in recovery as you realize the impact your addiction has had on yourself and on those around you. 

How Guilt and Shame Affect Recovery

If you do not allow yourself to let go of guilt and shame in recovery, these feelings can fester, like a wound that will not heal. The longer you wallow in guilt and shame, the more likely you are to experience addiction relapse.

When addressing the feelings of guilt and shame in recovery, it is essential to understand why these feelings are related and why they are somewhat different. Guilt is when you feel bad about something you did or failed to do and experience remorse for your actions. For example, you may have made a promise that you would stop staying out all night. However, your addiction made it impossible to follow through on that promise. As a result, you might feel guilty because you could not keep that promise.

On the other hand, shame goes a bit deeper than guilt. Shame is when you begin to internalize your feelings of guilt and blame yourself for the things you have done. Unfortunately, you can make yourself believe you are bad, worthless, and useless because of the things you did as a result of your addiction. 

Letting Go of Guilt and Shame in Recovery

Letting go of guilt and shame in recovery is possible by positively addressing these feelings using various methods, such as:

  • Individual Counseling – Counseling helps you realize your feelings of guilt and shame from your addiction are counterproductive to your recovery. You can start working through those feelings and learning why you should not blame yourself for your actions during your addiction. Pacfic Sands offers several addiction therapy options in Orange County, CA to help you overcome your guilt and shame in recovery.
  • Forgiving Ourselves – Dwelling on the past is another counterproductive behavior that can continue to bring up feelings of guilt and shame. It is essential to learn that what you did during your addiction does not matter. By forgiving yourself, you can focus on recovery and the choices you are now making. 
  • Learning to Let Go – Addressing guilt and shame in recovery requires learning how to let go of those things outside of your control. You cannot control how others react or their feelings about your addiction. What you can do is let go of the past and focus on what you can control – being free from addiction.
  • Seeking Forgiveness –  Letting go of guilt and shame does not mean avoiding responsibility. An imortant part of recovery is seeking forgiveness from those you hurt. While the ones you love may not yet be in a place to forgive you for what you did, it is better to ask their forgiveness, make amends, and move forward. 

How to Help Someone Overcome Shame

Those who want to help their loved ones in recovery need to be aware that they are most likely beating themselves up for their actions brought about by their addiction. They are already struggling with letting go of guilt and shame. The last thing they need is for you to continue to blame them as it will only make their recovery more difficult. 

Even though you may not be in a position to forgive them, you need to remember that for them to continue to progress in recovery, you need to stop holding them accountable for their past. In addition, you can take advantage of family counseling and therapy to better understand how you can help those you love to overcome their shame and guilt. 

Getting Help to Let Go of Shame in Recovery in Orange County, CA

We understand taking the first step of recovery and admitting you need help is a major accomplishment. We also understand it can be difficult to let go of guilt and shame in recovery. Just remember, there is no guilt or shame in asking for help with substance use disorders. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA, we offer customized addiction treatment programs that include learning how to overcome your guilt and shame. To learn more about our rehab treatment programs, please feel free to visit our admissions page or give us a call to speak with an intake specialist today.


  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

    Andrew N.
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  • This place helped saved my life, and a great stepping stone to get my life on the right track. Was there first client under new management, caring staff and owners, comfortable place to get you on your feet in sobriety.

  • Great Staff. Comfortable Environment. Awesome place to Get Clean and Sober. Thank you guys for everything.


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