After a patient enters rehab and starts to try and leave addiction behind, there are two spectors that can haunt them into the recovery process. These aren’t real ghosts, but ghosts of a mental sort in the form of memories of prior mistakes made while in the throes of substance abuse. Shame and guilt are a natural reaction for many recovering addicts who regret their past and struggle to move past such memories.

Only by overcoming shame and guilt in the recovery process can the recovering addict truly move on past addiction.

It’s natural that a former addict will remember their time indulging in substance abuse in a less than flattering light. And there’s much to regret in such memories. Addiction is often not just about a person taking drugs, but doing sometimes awful or destructive things to continue to take drugs.

Such actions can include lies, theft, betrayal, and other acts, often taken against friends and loved ones, which can further exacerbate the recovering addict’s remorse when looking back from a sober perspective.

A natural reaction to such memories is a combination of shame and guilt. The recovering addict looks back on their past with shame, knowing they did things they now consider abhorrent under the influence of substance abuse and can feel guilt, sometimes of a crippling nature, over those things.

Acknowledging past mistakes is important in the patient’s road to recovery, but remorse and understanding cannot be allowed to tip into shame and guilt. The recovering addict should not try and bury their past, but while seeking out those they harmed and asking for forgiveness is one healthy response, allowing shame and guilt to cripple you emotionally and try and isolate yourself to avoid further harm is not.

Overcoming Shame and Guilt in the Recovery Process

In fact, shame and guilt can prove so destructive to a patient’s mental well-being, they can potentially tip the patient back into relapse and a return to addiction, which in turn brings about more shame and guilt, creating a devastating cycle of mistakes and unhealthy emotional reaction to those mistakes that leads to further mistakes. And so on.

The recovering addict must find a healthier outlet for expressing regret and penitence in regard to past mistakes. Seeking out others for forgiveness is one such outlet. Faith can be another. For the practicing Christian, with a belief in forgiveness from sins, turning your mistakes over to God is a way to put them behind you and expunge them from your past, emotionally and spiritually.

At Good Landing Recovery, a Christian approach to recovery encourages such methods in handling potential issues with guilt and shame. Combined with regular treatment methods for addiction, it can lead to a greater success rate in finding lasting peace and better avoidance of relapse.

Guilt and shame can be a crippling burden for the former addict seeking to find a better way forward but afraid of falling prey to the mistakes of the past.

With help from Good Landing Recovery, the recovering addict can overcome shame and guilt in the recovery process and discover a way to move past former mistakes into a brighter tomorrow.