Guilt and Shame: An Addict’s Best Friends

When I used drugs and alcohol, there were many negative side effects that go beyond the physical and spiritual effects, including emotional trauma. Over the years of addiction, I gained a couple of unwanted best friends- Shame and Guilt. Guilt is the emotion that we feel when we have done something that we perceive as bad or morally wrong. Guilt does have its purpose though. It lets us know when we have a behavior that probably needs some work and that we should change and apologize for harming others in our daily lives. However when I was using, I didn’t understand that I was able to change those behaviors. I chalked it up to, “I guess I was just born a terrible human”, which left me crushed under the grips of shame.

Shame is the emotion felt when we believe that we as people are born bad or terrible, not just our behaviors and actions are disastrous.  For me, shame only lead one direction which was to self hatred, low self-esteem and an absence of self-confidence. It was hard to feel anything but shame which then caused me to believe I couldn’t control my using and therefore my behaviour.  If I can’t control myself, then there has to be something terribly wrong with me.

This is where the root of addiction comes from- a lack of power and control. Addiction is a disease that no one would choose to have but a disease that can be  conquered. Don’t get me wrong, it took me years of relapse and failed attempts to fully accept that I am an addict and have no other option but to give my life to God and discover a solid program of recovery. Once I did accept that I was an addict it all seemed much more simple than I was making it out to be. I just had to realize that I’m not a terrible person, I just happen to have a disease and I can no longer feel this shame  about who I truly am.

Shame is such a poisonous emotion that can engulf your entire mindset. Now that I don’t use drugs anymore, I don’t struggle with the grips of shame like I did before. That voice in my head that tells me ‘I’m worthless’ has gone silent and I truly know what it means to be free today. I am free from all my self hatred and low self esteem and I have found true purpose in my life today. I owe this freedom to my relationship with my higher power that I found through a solid program of recovery. If I want to continue curving shame then I am going to have to stay solid in this program of recovery because looking back Shame and Guilt were the worst best friends I ever had.