Tag Archives: Recovery

Nutrition in Recovery

Nutrients found in food are essential to life. They provide calories and energy that is needed so we can go throughout our days. It is possible though to consume food without much nutrition and feel like you’re able to go about your day with no problems. The connection between food and health might not always be so clear to everyone. What may or may not seem obvious, is that food impacts our health and how we deal with daily life. With processed foods, it begins to lose most if not all of the nutrition it may have had. This type of food can leave someone feeling sick, lethargic, and can greatly affect one’s mood. Processed food puts the body into a state of inflammation, which leaves people feeling depressed and anxious.

Naturally, your body adjusts to what you regularly consume. For Psychology Today, Dr. Nicole Avena writes, “Without even realizing it, most food choices are made based on taste, convenience, and familiarity. The gut will not be primed for digestion of fibrous fruits and vegetables, and there exists a strong preference for food that is salty (chips) or sweet and easily digestible (sweetened cereal with milk).” If you eat only junk food, that is what you crave and what triggers the reward center in your brain. With nutrient therapy, we want to show that it is possible to feel better by eating better. Addiction significantly deprives the body of nutrients. For a thorough recovery, it is essential that we work with patients to repair their health through nutrition.

Alcohol and Nutrition

The vagus nerve is a nerve that helps your gut and your mind communicate. The food you consume directly affects this nerve, and naturally so does consumption of alcohol. When something is permeable, it becomes more absorbent or more easily allows substances to pass through. Some permeability in the gut or intestines, for example, is okay, but when it increases it can become a problem. A study done in 2014 found that alcohol-dependent subjects may have higher gut permeability, which can affect behavioral changes and mood.

The authors also wrote, “Alcohol-dependent subjects frequently develop emotional symptoms that contribute to the persistence of alcohol drinking.”* Someone might drink to cope with other issues and then develop issues from drinking, which will then lead to continued heavy drinking. This can clearly create a negative cycle; it will damage the gut and can lead to anxiety and depression, which then may be self-medicated with alcohol.

Furthermore, alcohol impedes a body’s ability to break down nutrients into molecules that the body desperately needs. Excessive consumption of alcohol can deprive the body of vitamins and minerals. A deficiency in Vitamin K, for example, can cause delayed blood clotting and will result in excess bleeding. Furthermore, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “…eighty percent of bipolar sufferers have some vitamin B deficiencies (often accompanied by anemia).”* A vitamin B deficiency is not the sole cause, nor will everyone with a deficiency suffer from bipolar disorder. However, it is an important facet to consider and increasing vitamin B levels can help to alleviate some symptoms.

Other vitamin deficiencies can cause severe neurological damage. Mineral deficiencies can result in a number of health problems including calcium-related bone disease, zinc-related night blindness and skin lesions.* For clients seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, we will identify any malnutrition or micro-nutrient deficiencies. When we know what to address, we can form a plan with food, nutrition and other necessary medicine to restore balance.

Drugs and Nutrient Deprivation

Drugs also clearly deprive the body of essential nutrients and can lead to severe malnutrition. Opiates (including codeine, oxycodone, heroin, and morphine) can cause gastrointestinal problems which can include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This can result in a lack of nutrients and electrolytes, like sodium or potassium.* With stimulants, like meth, crack, or cocaine, appetite is reduced and this leads to weight loss and poor nutrition. Long-term use can result in permanent memory problems.* There are, of course, many other possible issues. Substance abuse is a disease that can drastically destroy the mind and body. However, with proper help and treatment there is hope.

When someone is in recovery, particularly after abusing stimulants, it is possible they might turn to overeating. At Reflections, we want to work with clients on a plan to return their health to a good place and to learn new, healthy habits. This can start with eating at regular times, eating food that is high in nutrition, and even learning to prepare healthy food for oneself. Nutrition is essential to having energy, maintaining body structure, and bodily function.

A better mood and mental state is a good defense against relapse in many ways. It can encourage someone to engage in other healthy behaviors. As good food makes the body and mind feel better, physical activity will be something clients feel they can engage in. Being active can be a significant help in recovery. Overall, we want our clients to develop good nutritional habits that will reach every other area of their lives.

Utilizing Nutrition in Recovery

At Reflections, each client will go through an initial evaluation. This allows us to take a comprehensive look at our client’s health. With laboratory testing, we can identify the vitamins and minerals where there is a deficiency. This helps us identify how their health is affected, physically or mentally, and how we can proceed with treatment. We can begin to introduce food and other healthy methods of restoring balance in the body. Our goal is that each client will feel better physically, which can lead to improved mental health. We also want clients to know that they can take control of their health and what they eat, and thus play a big part in their sobriety.

If we can teach our clients proper nutrition, we can allow them to take control. Learning about nutrition regarding food, drinks, and supplements is something clients can take with them after treatment. When clients are feeling better physically and mentally, they may feel more capable of engaging in physical activity. An active life in turn further benefits their physical and mental health, creating a positive cycle. At Reflections, we all truly want each client to walk away with the skills to continue a positive life and to maintain sobriety.

*Resources:
Psychology Today – Nutrition in Recovery from Addiction
Intestinal Permeability – PNAS
Alcohol and Nutrition – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Substance Use Recovery and Diet – MedlinePlus

High-Functioning Alcoholics: Are You Overlooking an Issue?


What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

A high-functioning alcoholic (HFA) is someone who appears to function normally in their daily life, despite having an addiction to alcohol. When people picture an alcoholic, they envision someone who may stumble when they walk, slur their speech or lose their temper with friends or coworkers.

HFAs actually present a completely different image. The addiction usually is kept a secret, making it look as if they are doing fine and have their lives together.

Types of High-Functioning Alcoholics

HFAs exist in two categories:

  • They either sneak drinks all day long, keeping their blood alcohol level high.
  • Or they stay sober during the day and binge drink at night or on weekends.

Both scenarios are damaging to not only themselves, but to those around them.

Since HFAs are particularly good at hiding their addiction, years can drift by before family and friends notice the signs. Unfortunately, because HFAs have become so savvy at sneaking around and hiding the truth, their instinct is to continue concealing the problem.

There are also cultural stereotypes and myths facing HFAs that can cause them to avoid seeking treatment. Here are some myths about HFAs to think about when looking for help for yourself or a loved one:

Myth 1: High-Functioning Alcoholics Can’t Hold a Job or Be Successful

Many high-functioning alcoholics have great jobs and successful careers backed by warm and loving families. They may seem like they have their lives together with a home, friends and kids. All this success can undermine the grim reality that the person is suffering from alcohol use disorder. The truth is HFAs end up battling emotional problems and are often in denial that there is a problem at all.

About 20 to 32 percent of alcoholics actually fall into the high-functioning alcoholism category. Those in the HFA category are often middle aged and well educated with stable jobs and families.

About one-third of HFAs have a genetic predisposition to alcohol use disorder, and a quarter of them have suffered from a major depressive disorder at some point during their lives. These underlying conditions lead to feelings of low self-esteem and depression, masked by alcohol use.

Myth 2: HFAs Don’t Have a Problem

For people suffering from HFA, denial is often a factor. They often think that because they can function and hold a great job, there is no problem with their drinking. If you are concerned about a loved one, stop and take a look at how much drinking happens in a 24-hour period.

Excessive alcohol use is:

  • More than three drinks a day for women;
  • More than four drinks per day for men;
  • Or a total of more than seven drinks per week for women or 14 or more drinks per week for men.

Anyone who drinks more than this is putting himself or herself at risk. While the effects might not show up immediately, prolonged use will take a toll.

Myth 3: HFAs Don’t Show Signs of Alcoholism

HFAs might present symptoms differently than people with more obvious signs of alcohol dependency, but they still suffer from the same signs of abuse. Signs of functional alcoholism might be more subtle, but they are there.

Anyone showing signs of alcoholism (which we will get to in a moment) may try to hide them or to isolate oneself in order to avoid detection. Just because the person is successful at disguising them to the world does not mean these symptoms do not exist. High-functioning alcoholics’ relationships with friends and family can become strained due to the behaviors they use to avoid facing the truth.

Myth 4: HFAs Don’t Need to Seek Help

Many HFAs can lead normal lives for years. Because they can hold a job and still handle normal daily tasks, they continue down the same path, never stopping to get help for their substance abuse.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis builds tolerance, meaning you need more alcohol to continue feeling the same effects as time goes on. What may have started as an innocent relationship with alcohol can spiral out of control to a place where the alcoholic doesn’t know how to get out. At first, the drinking may seem benign, or like a social obligation, but as the body builds tolerance, HFAs will continue drinking to keep the feeling going.

Seeking help and treatment is the only way to recover. HFAs will usually not seek treatment by themselves. Often, they need friends or family members to encourage them to take the next step.

Myth 5: HFAs Are in Control

The illusion HFAs portray shows them as highly educated with good jobs and a stable life. This sometimes tricks friends and family into believing that the HFA is in control of the drinking.

Any recovering alcoholic will tell you that this is not the case. They only seem like they are in control because they have managed to hide the drinking from those around them. They conceal the problem by consciously masking the signs in order to appear in control at all times.

Just because HFAs are great at concealing the signs of alcoholism does not mean there are no signs. The signs may just be more subtle and harder to see from an outside perspective.

A few of the signs of alcoholism include:

  • Using alcohol to relax and feel more confident
  • Drinking in the morning
  • Drinking too much
  • Blacking out after drinking
  • Needing a drink for every situation, good and bad
  • Joking about an alcohol problem
  • Drinking alone
  • Missing school or work because of drinking
  • Continuing to drink even though it brings feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Becoming angry when confronted about alcohol abuse
  • Having a record of DUI arrests or other alcohol-influenced charges

Help for High-Functioning Alcoholics from Reflections Recovery

If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these symptoms of alcoholism, it is time to get help. HFAs experience a wide variety of long-term health effects, making it more dangerous as time continues.

Contact the compassionate team at Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, Arizona to talk treatment options. Our men’s rehabilitation facility is the perfect place to begin long-term recovery.

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Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early Sobriety


Even in a primarily digital age, books still hold a lot of power. The power of books can help you to look deeply into yourself and recognize traits that are holding you back or can give you ideas on how and what to change about yourself to achieve desired results. During addiction recovery, books can be your best friend; comforting you when you need to be comforted, and giving you ideas on how to better yourself. Everyone’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is different, and recovery happens in different phases.

That being said, not all of these books will be a perfect fit for everyone, and some of the choices may offer more help in different phases of recovery, yet may be a trigger for others in other phases of recovery. These suggestions are merely suggestions, and you should find the book that speaks to you and where you are at in your recovery.

Books on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: 

Pour Me: A Life by A. A. Gill 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyA raw and profound memoir, this book serves as an often humorous account of the life of A. A. Gill – a food critic who found that his fast life and career in his 20s had left him with serious problems with alcohol. The way Gill describes the symptoms of alcoholism can be quite brutal at times, and some readers may find the early parts of the book a trigger – reminding them of their own struggles with alcohol. By the end of the book, though, Gill shows how he personally faced his inner demons and found a new outlook on his life and his passions.

 

 

 

 

Living Sober by Alcoholics Anonymous 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyFor those that find AA and the 12 Step process helpful in early addiction recovery, Living Sober is a great companion book to the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. This book lays out the steps of building a new life in sobriety, without drugs or alcohol. Early recovery can be difficult, and this book offers great ideas for creating a sober life while teaching you easy to use practices for dealing with stress and urges to drink or get high. For those looking for an easy read filled with tips that can be attributed to their personal lives and sobriety, this is a highly recommended read.

 

 24 Hours A Day by Richard Walker

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyAn older book that was published in 1963, this book could be considered timeless to anyone who has known the struggles of addiction, particularly alcoholism. This book offers mediation, guidance, and prayers for sober life and living in sobriety. What makes this book so easy to use is that it is divided into 365 days, with each day offering motivational thoughts and lessons, as well as prayers and affirmations. This book is often considered to be a great companion book to the “Big Book” of AA and other complementary books in the Alcoholics Anonymous series.

 

 

 

 

Books on Drug Addiction and Treatment 

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Nicole Kosanke, Stephanie Higgs, Carrie Wilkens, Geoffrey Foote 

What makes this a great book for some in recovery, is the fresh outlook and opinions if gives on addiction science and addiction treatment. If the older “classic” books about addiction feel outdated to you, or you are interested in new ideas and approaches to recovery and addiction treatment, this will be a good read for you. This book can also be helpful for parents of addicts and family members who are caring for a loved one struggling with addiction. This book will give families greater insight into what drugs and alcohol do to change a person, and puts the struggle that addicts endure into perspective.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison 

This book offers a recount of the authors own experiences with alcohol as well as her commentary on the struggles of many other contemporaries. This book is written in a prose style, rather than a guide like AA books or books dedicated to sober living and recovery. Jamison’s writing is incredible, and she touches upon the fact that sobriety is a place to either find, re-evaluate or lose your creativity. The book is hailed as a great commentary on substance abuse in popular culture, and even writer Stephen King has suggested that this book be required reading.

Other Good Books for Recovering Addicts: 

Food for Recovery: The Complete Nutritional Companion for Overcoming Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Eating Disorders by Joseph Beasley MD and Susan Knightly [H3]

Diet is one of the biggest factors in successfully recovering from substance abuse, alcohol, or drug addiction. When in recovery, it is essential to make good dietary choices and to rehabilitate body and mind with nutritional therapy.  Making good dietary and nutritional decisions in your sober life can be difficult, or feel overwhelming, but this book helps to make it easier. It includes recipes and great advice for getting over unhealthy eating habits and teaches you how to put nutrition first and avoid dietary dangers in recovery like sugar addiction.

 Books for Spiritual Recovery and Enlightenment: 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron 

Based on the author’s Buddhist spiritual beliefs, this book is blunt and direct. It shows you how to deal with life’s harder moments from a spiritualist perspective, and offers great insights on spiritual growth. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” says Pema addressing the fears that we all have, but are especially prevalent in times of great change and growth. If you are a spiritualist and like to enjoy introspective reading, this is a great book that offers a wealth of wisdom. 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyHow to address negative thoughts and feelings about the past and future is just one of the intentions of Tolle’s powerful book on spiritual can be used as a daily guide for dealing with life’s stresses. Tolle begins by showing you that YOU are the source of enlightenment in your life, and you are also the source of pain – depending on how you think and act. “Start living NOW,” is the message throughout the book, and it gives you practical ways to get into that type of thinking. The spiritualism covered it is not heavily religious or tied to any specific spiritual beliefs, and the advice given can easily fit into YOUR life.

 

There are many great books that can help you in your first weeks of sobriety and in the first year of recovery from addiction. Not only are the above-referenced books great introductions to the various types of books for addiction recovery, but each can guide you along to finding other related books and topics that might fit with your personal recovery needs.

If you are not traditionally a “book person,” or a big reader, just remember to start slow. Take your time and enjoy the words and advice given in these and other recovery books. Learning how to stay sober and learning how to be comfortable in your sobriety will take time – spending your time with these and other books is a great way to start off.

Check Out Other Addiction Resources

Help for Parents and Loved Ones in Denial About Addiction of Family Members


Enabling is the act of shielding a loved one who is struggling with addiction from the consequences of his or her substance abuse. Families can enable the addiction without even knowing they are doing so. Many actions that family members or loved ones take with the intention of helping do more harm than good.

Addiction And Codependent Relationships

Families enable addiction because it is often more comfortable than facing the problem of loved ones struggling with addictions. This is the same reason the loved one abuses drugs and alcohol. This connection makes it easier for people struggling with addiction to teach their families to enable them. When families enable addiction, they make addiction comfortable for those abusing drugs or alcohol. Thus, they have no reason to quit or seek help, and it creates codependent relationships.

Four Enabling Behaviors Taught To Families 

Help for Parents and Loved Ones in Denial About Addiction of Family MembersPeople with addictions teach family members that the addiction is the fault of anyone or anything other than themselves. Loved ones then feel guilty for not having helped or solved the problem. Guilty families become enabling families.

Loved ones experience the threat of a host of consequences if they do not enable addiction. The fear of the person abusing drugs or alcohol hating them, never speaking to them again, committing suicide, or dying teaches families to enable.

Those struggling with addiction use hope as a tool to teach enabling behaviors. Their loved ones hold on to the hope that the addicted family member has a plan for recovery. As a result, the loved ones wait for an incident or person to inspire change and do nothing themselves.

People who struggle with addiction often see themselves as victims. They believe that their terrible life has led them to their addiction. They convince others of this situation as well, inspiring guilt and dodging accountability.

Denial And Addiction In Families 

Enabling not only hurts the person struggling with addiction, it will cause problems that affect the entire family. Arguing about the enabling behaviors and addiction disrupts once-peaceful families. Money and resources that would normally go to the entire family are spent on furthering an addiction. Other family members become resentful and anger distorts open communication lines in the family. Denial delays treatment for the loved one struggling with addiction.

Are You Enabling Addiction? 

Many family members do not even know they are enabling addiction. They tell themselves that their behaviors are helping. While these actions do come from a place of love and caring, they often do more harm than good. It is important to note that pointing out these behaviors is not meant to place blame on family and loved ones. The purpose is to better understand why family members take part in these behaviors and help them stop.

Enabling Behaviors 

Helping Obtain Substances 

This comes in the form of giving money, or a ride to the liquor store or dealer. Even if this happens with the intent of preventing their loved one from getting behind the wheel, it is enabling.

Turning A Blind Eye 

It may seem like a safer option to allow a loved one to use the substance in the house. However, this only provides them with a comfortable and consequence-free place to use.

Lying To Cover For Addiction

Family members can lie to cover for their loved one’s addiction too. Making up an excuse to an authority figure or downplaying the problem to someone showing concern is shielding the problem from the world and from help.

Empty Threats 

It can be easy to make empty threats and not follow through. A lack of boundaries reaffirms enabling behavior in the family member and addiction in their loved one.

Taking On Your Loved One’s Responsibilities 

Paying for bills, searching for a job, or cleaning up after a loved one with addiction makes them more comfortable and less likely to seek help.

Undue Stress 

A family member experiences emotional, physical, or financial stress due to the person struggling with addiction. If the regular interactions that a family member goes through to protect this person from the consequences of his or her actions causes undue strain on emotions and relationships, it is enabling.

No Sign Of Change 

Family members may continue to help their loved one despite seeing no signs of that person getting better. If there are no changes, something is not working.

Healthier Behaviors Instead Of Enabling 

Enabling behaviors prevent consequences and accountability. Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction begins with the person struggling with addiction becoming accountable for his or her actions.

As a family member or loved one of someone with an addiction, be sure to set clear boundaries. There is no need to clean up their messes, give them money, lie to others for them, or protect them from authority. Follow through on those boundaries for their sake and the wellness of the family.

Don’t be a supplier of temptation. If they struggle with drinking, don’t bring them to places where alcohol is easily available or drink around them. Encourage sobriety by helping them to find sober activities they enjoy. Remember to practice self-care. Enabling an addiction is not only unsafe for the person struggling, but also for the person enabling. Constant guilt and fear have a destructive effect on mental health.

Addiction Intervention For Families 

Family support for an addiction is important for everyone. An intervention gets the entire family involved and sets up a treatment plan for recovery and provides family support for addiction. Within that plan, everyone is accountable for their own actions in relation to addiction and enabling addiction.

An intervention allows the entire family to communicate and understand the full effects that enabling an addiction are having on everyone. Act before addiction creates bankruptcy, overdose, or a broken family. A family intervention is the first place to start if your family is in a cycle of codependency, denial, enabling, and addiction.

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Working Through Self-Guilt and Shame During Recovery from Addiction


Guilt can tear you up inside. It is a demon that some people fight for the rest of their lives.

Guilt will creep up in your life, wrapping around and strangling you, leaving you drained and crippled emotionally.

For those fighting addiction, guilt is just another layer on top of a struggle that is big enough on its own.

Appropriate and Inappropriate Guilt

It’s normal and appropriate to feel guilt when you have done something wrong. If you have harmed someone, done something that violates your personal moral or religious values, or have done something you swore you’d never do again, guilt is the appropriate response.

In fact, if you didn’t feel guilty for wrongdoings, it would be a sign of psychopathy. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by no guilt or remorse for bad behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder:
A mental condition in which a person consistently violates and exploits other people’s feelings and rights, shows no regard for right and wrong conduct and has no remorse or guilt for wrong actions.

Guilt is not necessarily a destructive emotion when experienced for the right reasons; however, when it becomes an all-consuming emotion, it will impede your healing and recovery from addiction.

It’s a Shame

Shame can be just as debilitating as guilt. Shame is a powerful feeling that often arises from guilt. However, it can be experienced independent of guilt. If someone bullies you or pressures you into feeling inferior because of what you did or what someone else did, that is shaming.

If you have an external locus of control — you blame outside forces for the events of your life — you will take to heart what others tell you about yourself and can easily be guilted or shamed.

Shame can produce numerous negative feelings in a person. Here are a few examples of what someone dealing with shame might feel:

  • Inferiority
  • Humiliation
  • Remorse
  • Embarrassment
  • Inadequacy
  • Unworthiness

Feeling ashamed is not helpful in recovery, since it can hold a person back in achieving happiness and personal growth. Any focus on negative thinking about yourself reduces self-esteem and inhibits positive change.


Guilt vs. Shame

The simplest way to understand the difference between guilt and shame is personified in this analogy:

Guilt says to you, “You did something bad and you know it,” whereas Shame says, “You are something bad and they know it.”


Shame and Guilt in Addiction Recovery

Nearly everyone that enters rehab believes they won’t have to worry about encountering these feelings of shame, guilt and remorse. However, during detox and the initial phases of treatment, it is very common to suddenly experience an onset of these emotions.

Much like depression and anxiety, guilt and shame seem to come out of nowhere and are two of the biggest psychological symptoms of withdrawal an individual will face during the first six months of recovery.

Self-Punishment Inhibits Recovery

Instead of motivating you to change and be a healthier person, dwelling on the self-tormenting emotions of addiction shame and guilt propel you into a pattern of negative thinking. Living in those feelings of worthlessness causes depression, which can cause relapse.

Oftentimes, negative feelings make people want to turn to drugs or alcohol. Feeling bad about yourself and struggling with depression and anxiety are common triggers for starting or relapsing into an addiction.

Punishing yourself by focusing on the mistakes you’ve made or the negative beliefs someone else has about you only hurts you. It does no good for anyone else, even someone you know you’ve hurt.

Overcoming Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Addiction shame and guilt occur in nearly every single case of substance abuse and alcoholism. As people enter rehab and become and remain sober and clean, they realize the damage they’ve done to themselves and their loved ones. It’s natural for this process to bring up negative feelings.

The key to overcoming this darkness is to learn new addiction coping skills and be able to work through your feelings, creating something positive instead.

Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment 

Behavioral Therapy: 
A set of psychotherapies using techniques based on behaviorism, the belief that all behaviors are learned and can be changed.

The behavior therapies used at Reflections Recovery Center can help men struggling with negative feelings like guilt and shame. The foundation of behavioral therapy is to eradicate irrational thinking and replace it with rational thinking.

When a client at Reflections Recovery Center can open up to a trusted counselor and find camaraderie with his peers, who have an intimate understanding of what he’s going through, great relief and healing occurs.

The amazing therapeutic work in drug and alcohol addiction treatment addresses the negative feelings of guilt and shame, and it helps individuals understand their feelings and let go of resentments so true recovery can begin.

Here are just a few behavioral points on how to cope with shame and guilt when you’re dealing with addiction and trauma:


Feel Your Feelings

Many times, we want to stuff our feelings down and not face them. But by allowing ourselves to really feel what we’re feeling inside and talk about it, write it down or pray about it, we get real with ourselves.

Forgive Yourself

Don’t judge yourself too harshly or critically. Treat yourself the way you would treat a close friend, with kindness, understanding and no judgment.

Examine Your Guilt

If it is inappropriate guilt, let it go. If it is appropriate guilt, change the behavior(s) that trigger the guilt. Once you stop doing the actions that trigger the remorseful feelings, the feelings fall off as well.

Forgiveness 

One roadblock that keeps us holding onto shame is a lack of forgiveness. When we cannot forgive ourselves and others, we fixate on the pain and judgment instead of releasing ourselves and our loved ones from the merciless grip of guilt.

When you forgive someone, you let the pain of his or her wrongdoings go. It doesn’t mean you condone their behavior. It does mean you are willing to let their mistakes go because you don’t want that hurt to eat you up inside.

Forgiving the people in your life that have wronged you helps you heal. Perhaps you need to make amends for things you’ve done wrong to them as well; and, if so, making amends can be cathartic.

But maybe the pain you hold onto can’t be healed by amends because that person is no longer with us or because re-establishing a relationship with them would be more destructive to your life. In those cases, writing a letter you may or may not send can aid in forgiveness.

People in recovery often confess that forgiving themselves is harder than forgiving someone else. Oftentimes, we are our worst critics. So, being able to treat ourselves kindly and compassionately can be just as much of a virtue as forgiving other people.

Progressing into Self-Worth 

The opposite of shame is self-worth. Valuing, believing in and loving yourself comprise a healthy self-image and increase your self-esteem.

These are some qualities of high self-worth:

  • Confidence
  • Inherent sense of value as a person
  • Independence from external approval
  • Self-respect
  • Self-esteem

Feeling proud of and appreciating yourself increases well-being. There will always be people who will judge and criticize you, and there will be people to praise and encourage you. But learning to see yourself realistically, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and being proud of the traits you possess bring you to your own sense of self-worth.

Don’t let shame or guilt hold you back from getting the tools you need to recover. You need healthy addiction coping mechanisms to help you work through emotional issues like guilt, remorse and shame for a successful recovery.

“Each new day is an opportunity to start all over again…
to cleanse our minds and hearts anew and to clarify our vision.
And let us not clutter up today with the leavings of other days.”
– Author unknown, compiled by Jo Petty

Learn Even More About Overcoming Guilt and Shame in the First Year of Sobriety 

How to Let Go of Shame in Recovery