The Impacts of Shame In Addiction and Ways To Overcome This Toxic Feeling
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The Impacts of Shame In Addiction and Ways To Overcome This Toxic Feeling

On August 28, 2019, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid crisis. This landmark verdict is the first of its kind to hold a pharmaceutical company accountable for the nation’s growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths. However, even amid this promising verdict lies the stories of the victims and the trail of devastation left behind. One story, in particular, comes from Gary Mendell about his son Brian who took his life after finally becoming sober from his opioid addiction.

Mendell was one of many families who testified in the trial and went on to found a nonprofit called Shatterproof to help families coping with drug abuse. In a recent interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Mendell discussed what his son wrote in his suicide note and what he feels was one of the biggest reasons he took his life, “He wrote about the shame that goes along with someone addicted – the waking up every morning feeling like an outcast all day long. That’s what he felt. And that’s what everyone who is addicted feels. And because of that, it creates social isolation.” It’s time to talk about the role shame plays in addiction so we can end it.

The Role of Shame In Addiction

Shame can become part of a person’s identity during active addiction, but it also can be felt during sobriety. This feeling can result in terrible loneliness, depression, and in the case of Brian Mendell and many others, can sometimes lead to suicide. The stress of shame can affect the mental and social health of individuals during sobriety, and many lose touch with their family, friends, and community. But it doesn’t have to be this way and there is help.

Overcoming Shame During Recovery

If you or someone you love is feeling shame during recovery, there are ways to tackle this issue. Letting go of negative beliefs and forming a new, positive self-image can help to promote a healthy recovery. Some ways to deal with toxic shame in the early stages of recovery include:

  • Finding a reputable therapist to help work through trauma or issues that have contributed to any feelings of shame. Therapy is a crucial part of replacing shame with a positive self-image, and it is also an essential part of recovery.
  • Boosting your self-confidence through a recovery support group who understand your situation. Sharing your story can also help others who feel overwhelmed in their feelings of shame.
  • Practicing self-care by finding creative outlets, hobbies, exercise, supportive friends, and journaling feelings you encounter throughout the process of healing. Staying present in the moment through meditation also helps ground you when feelings of shame rise to the surface.
  • Remember always to refer back to evidence-based facts to remember what addiction is – and what it isn’t. It’s a disease and NOT who you are.

Addiction, Treatment, and Hope

To encourage people to get on the road to recovery, it is essential to reduce the stigma surrounding their situation. Addiction is complicated, which is why a proven approach to treating it is critical for a full recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or substance use disorder, and need help in a supportive environment, contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. Addiction makes you feel isolated, but you are not alone. Treatable is available, and recovery is possible.

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