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6 Healing Practices to Overcome Shame in Recovery

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Unfortunately, shame is a common experience that people in addiction treatment and recovery have faced. These feelings can feel very negative and daunting, and, although painful, these feelings are normal. There are ways that you can overcome this feeling of shame in addiction recovery, however.

Here are six healing practices that will help you overcome shame in addiction recovery. 

Ignore stereotypes

There are many damaging and negative stereotypes out there about people recovering with addiction, but I won’t mention any of them here. These can increase or perpetuate the feelings of shame during rehab. It is important to recognise and understand that these stereotypes are untrue. Forgetting about these false assumptions that people might have allows for you to focus all of your mental power on your addiction treatment and self-improvement. It also makes reaching out to people from your past to make amends much easier. 

Practise self-forgiveness

The next healing practice on our list is practising self-forgiveness. Although it may be easier said than done, this is a crucial step in addiction recovery. It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and some of these mistakes may be bigger than others. First, you need to acknowledge and recognise these past mistakes. This recognition can include apologising to those that you may have harmed from the past, going through various types of therapy, and attending support group meetings. Next is to forgive yourself and focus on making self-improvements and living a healthy, sober life. 

Be honest about your past 

In order to make a full addiction recovery, you need to be honest about your past to the people trying to help you. This includes any healthcare professionals, therapists, and close friends or family. Being truthful about your past could greatly improve the care that you are able to receive. It is equally as important that you are honest about your present situation as well. This is especially true if you have been having difficulties or have had a relapse. Although these things might be difficult to talk about, being honest about things like this can also improve the care that you receive. It can also prevent you from having a relapse.

Apologise to anyone you have harmed 

Alcohol and drug addictions can be damaging to those an addict is around. Unfortunately, this often means close friends and family. However, apologising for your past actions is the first step that you can take towards making amends with people. This may seem like a daunting and frightening step, but many people are more forgiving and understanding than you may believe. In fact, these people may become your biggest supporters that will offer their help in the future. Having a strong support system is very important in addiction treatment because it improves the chances for a smooth addiction recovery. 

Focus on your recovery

Focusing on your addiction treatment and recovery is another healing practice that you can use to overcome shame as a recovering addict. These personal life improvements allow you to redeem any past mistakes that you have made, and it also helps you with proving to other people that you have truly changed your ways. In addition to this, focusing all of your time on your addiction recovery reduces the chances of a relapse. It allows you to improve your health and life overall. 

Create things in your life that you are proud of

Achieving sober living is a great accomplishment. However, sometimes this is not enough to improve a recovering addict’s self-esteem. Creating goals that you can work toward during your addiction recovery is a great way to increase this though. These goals could be anything from starting a new hobby that you are proud of to make the big step of going back to work. Sometimes feeling that you are being productive or learning a new skill that you have always wanted to is enough to increase the feeling of self-worth. 


The feeling of shame during addiction treatment and recovery is a common and unfortunate reality. However, there are several things that you can do to combat this negative feeling. Things like recognising that negative stereotypes about recovering addicts are untrue and practising self-forgiveness are the first steps that you can take to overcoming shame during recovery. The steps that you should take after these include apologizing to those that you have harmed, focusing on your addiction recovery, and creating goals that will increase your self-esteem. Of course, it is always important that you are completely honest when it comes to your past and present situation when it comes to your addiction. This will allow people like healthcare workers, therapists, and those in your support system to help you in the best way possible. 

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.


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