There is no doubt that having addiction makes it difficult for individuals to take stock of their lives. Those with addiction can be met with social disgrace and no easy way to get back on their feet. While shame may seem like a productive way to help someone with addiction, the reality is that it is more likely to contribute to the problem than solve it. Learning how to not shame in addiction is key in having a positive impact on those living with addiction.
What is Shame?
Shame is the feeling of humiliation, worthlessness, or guilt. It can be triggered by a sense that you have failed to live up to the expectations of yourself, another individual or a group. In situations related to addiction, shame can be used to punish someone for their behavior and can lead to increased levels of feeling vulnerable or helpless.
The Impact of Shame on Those With Addiction
When someone with addiction is shamed, it can have a profoundly negative effect on the individual. Those who are shamed tend to feel more powerless and deeply embarrassed, which can result in them feeling worse about their addiction. Shame also causes individuals to withdraw or avoid activities that would otherwise help with their recovery.
Shaming someone is also likely to decrease any desire to talk about their struggles and will cause them to be less likely to seek help. Ultimately shame causes those with addiction to internalize and suffer in silence, rather than to seek out the guidance and support they need to overcome their addiction.
Introducing Compassionate Approaches
While shame may feel like the proper enablement tactic, it is important to remind ourselves that compassion and understanding is what truly makes a difference. Compassion and understanding for those with addiction can help to create a safe and secure atmosphere where individuals feel comfortable providing recognition of their struggles and asking for help.
In order to foster these qualities, individuals should strive to be understanding. This means being mindful of the individual’s feelings and trying to listen and empathize, even if you don’t agree with the person’s decision. Individuals should also strive to be non-judgmental. This means being supportive and understanding, while also challenging the person in a compassionate way.
Lastly, individuals can foster these qualities by not acting in a way that casts blame. Blame reinforces feelings of shame and inadequacy. Instead, individuals should focus on building trust and forming a supportive connection.
Shame has a profound effect on those with addiction, with the potential to worsen their addiction and further discourage them from seeking help. However, while shame may seem inevitable, it is important to remember that there are more compassionate and effective approaches to helping individuals with addiction. Try to remember to be understanding, listen, empathize, and offer support instead of blaming. It is through this approach that those with addiction can be encouraged to seek help and move towards a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle..