Shame is an important emotion entwined in addiction. It can be the reason some people choose not to take steps towards healing and feeling it can continue the cycle of drug use. When we understand why we feel shame, we can take the steps needed to overcome it.

The Difference Between Guilt and Shame 

Guilt and shame are two of the most commonly confused emotions. Both reflect our values in life and our perception of what is right and wrong. However, when we experience guilt, our conscience is telling us that we believe what we are doing violates our morals or beliefs. 

When we experience shame, our conscience is telling us who we are as a person violates our morals or beliefs. With guilt, we think our behavior as wrong, but shame focuses more on seeing ourselves as a bad person. 

Why Do We Feel Shame?

Shame is an all-encompassing emotion that changes how we view ourselves and our worth in the world. When it comes to drug use, feelings of guilt over our behavior, or how we treated family and friends can become feelings of shame once sober. Even thoughts of using drugs or falling back into old habits can lead to feelings of shame. 

The Importance of Understanding Shame 

When we allow the cycle of shame and drug use to feed off one another, we avoid accepting the consequences of our behavior. When we accept feelings of shame for the actions we’ve committed or behavior we’ve exhibited, we allow ourselves to grow. Shame is an indicator that we can change — and that is the first step in growth.