Shame And Anger Are Common Emotions Related To Addiction
If you or someone you love is in active addiction or recovery, shame and anger are powerful emotions that affect everyone around you. These emotions can also be one cause of the substance use in the first place. Anger is especially scary when it’s directed at you or others, society, circumstances, or even yourself. When you are receiving addiction treatment, overcoming destructive emotions are essential steps toward living a happier and healthier life.
Examples of shame: You are afraid of looking stupid or saying the wrong thing, so you don’t try new things and don’t speak up. You avoid being the center of attention and wish you could shrink into the walls. Shame makes you feel like you can’t be your true self and that your true self is inadequate.
These feelings can lead to alcohol or drug use to feel better. However, as you continue to use substances, your behavior while using can cause additional feelings of shame and anger. When you avoid getting help for substance use as well as these emotions, you are stuck in a constant cycle. Without overcoming your shame or anger, you will have more difficulty treating your addiction.
What Is Shame
Shame is often described as the uncomfortable feeling that there is something wrong with you. You have a profound self-esteem problem, but there is more than one kind.. You can be feel ashamed because of abuse you experienced as a child or because you were bullied or parents and teachers told you your are just not good enough to measure up. Or you may feel badly because of things that you have done. With addiction, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services), Individuals are less likely to feel shame directly. Rather, they experience emotions related to shame such as depression and loneliness.
Often people who are experiencing shame do not realize that this is the source of their depression and loneliness until they receive therapy or addiction treatment. A medical professional can help identify the source of painful emotions so they can begin to address them.
What Is Anger
Anger is often rooted in other emotions, like fear and pain. Individuals may be angry about
something that hurt them in the past, and fearful that others will treat them the same way. When
individuals are dealing with substance abuse their anger can be directed at themselves for not
being able to stop using. Those dealing with anger may also lean on substances to cope with
When we are angry, our bodies release a large amount of a hormone called catecholamines,
which produce a short burst of energy. Anger also results in feeling on edge for hours or even
days after the initial trigger has passed. Addiction treatment can help you learn how to recognize what triggers your anger and learn to redirect those feelings.
Overcoming Shame and Anger
The first step to overcoming these emotions is to identify what is causing these feelings. If you
are suffering from feelings of loneliness and depression, it is possible that the root of this is shame, either from something in your past or your addiction itself. Learning that you have unresolved anger can help you manage what triggers you. Seeking treatment for your addiction is an opportunity for you to improve multiple areas of your mental health. Through therapy and other methods, you will learn which emotions are fueling your addiction and ways to deal with triggers so that you no longer turn to substances as a coping mechanism.
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of
Southern New Jersey.