Overcoming Shame and Stigma in Addiction Recovery: Embracing Vulnerability and Authenticity

Overcoming Shame and Stigma in Addiction Recovery: Embracing Vulnerability and Authenticity

Understanding the full complexities of addiction is no easy task. Many challenges and obstacles can slow down and sometimes reverse recovery. Two of the most difficult barriers are shame and stigma. Both of these things can arise from various factors and are often perpetuated through a lack of understanding. This is why we want to discuss them today. We will talk you through some common root causes, how they act as a barrier in the recovery process, how we can overcome them, and most importantly, how we can embrace our vulnerability and authenticity, knowing this can decrease setbacks and eradicate relapse for anyone struggling with addiction. At our drug rehab in Bali, we are aware of the seriousness of stigma or feeling shame, and it is important that you are too.

Why do we feel shame and stigma during addiction recovery?

As you probably know, addiction is usually accompanied by negative stereotypes and judgement. When society associates addiction with failing, a lack of morals, or a sign of weakness, this manifests into a series of emotions that can decrease the chances of someone’s addiction recovery.
Naturally, somebody battling addiction will feel ashamed, even though they are actively working towards a full recovery. Instead of recognising the strength it takes to recover, they will likely feel ashamed and struggle with their self-worth. This hindrance in self-esteem can create a perpetual fear of judgement. Unfortunately, coming off drugs and alcohol also affects a person’s mood and serotonin levels. This means that any negative feelings or emotions will only be exacerbated.
Someone going through these motions must be provided with the support they need. For people who haven’t battled addiction, it is of the utmost importance to promote societal values that focus on empathy and foster understanding and compassion towards people facing this uphill struggle.

How can shame and stigma act as a barrier for someone going through addiction recovery?

As we mentioned, shame and stigma can create many barriers that hinder recovery. Everyone is affected in various different ways when it comes to addiction, but these are some of the most common ways that shame and stigma can act as a barrier:
Social Isolation – Individuals are far more likely to withdraw themselves from social networks or any social behaviour at all. Without social support, recovery is dramatically impacted.
Reluctance to talk – Stigma can make a person unwilling to disclose information or discuss the struggles they are going through. Secrecy throughout addiction recovery can reduce the amount of support and empathy that someone needs to succeed.
Unwillingness to seek help – Shame and stigma also reduce the help-seeking behaviour essential for addiction recovery. If someone is unwilling to find help from healthcare professionals and loved ones, it dramatically decreases the odds of recovery.
Reduced self-esteem – Negative social attitudes towards addiction reduce self-esteem and self-worth. This will leave anyone feeling inadequate and believing that recovery is unobtainable.
Lack of motivation – With all of the above happening, it is very likely for someone to lack motivation. This can range from socialising to going to work or even basic human needs. Motivation is one thing that people recovering from addiction must have.
Negative impact on mental health – Addiction is usually a result of struggling with mental health issues. When shame and stigma are introduced on top, a person’s mental health can worsen. For someone to recover from addiction, they need to be in control of their emotional well-being.

Overcoming Shame and Stigma in addiction recovery

Specific triggers can worsen shame or stigma when recovering from addiction. Some of these include social Judgement, relapse, comparing ourselves to others, or even disclosing the addiction to a loved one. Whatever a person’s triggers might be, it is essential to understand how to overcome them. Here are five ways to create an environment that aids addiction recovery.

Education – It is imperative to learn as much about addiction as possible. Knowing it as a medical condition and understanding its causes and implications can create the perfect environment for successful recovery.
Compassion – Everyone must practise this. An addict needs to feel compassion in order to succeed. Not only is it important to receive from others, but self-compassion will also enhance the recovery process.
Self-care – People struggling with addiction need to learn how to treat themselves. When this is mastered, it creates a much more productive environment for recovery,
Challenge negativity – There will be many negative thoughts and emotions during the recovery process. It is crucial not to keep them locked up but to challenge them, whether it is talking to yourself or others.
Seek support – Always remember that there are people out there who can help, and never be afraid to ask.

Final thoughts

Addiction is one of the most challenging things to deal with, but understanding, compassion, and empathy can create a supportive environment to aid the battle. People in recovery need to embrace their vulnerability and authenticity to succeed.
Some ways to do this include:

  • Practising self-reflection
  • Sharing your story with others
  • Accepting who you are and understanding how far you have come
  • Build a support network around you
  • Engage in therapy, counselling, and conversation with others

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction right now, contact Calm Rehab today. We offer a recovery program like no other, and our experienced and qualified team are always willing to go the extra mile to help someone on their path to recovery.

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