Recovering from alcoholism is a journey with many steps, and one thing ties them all together: shame. Many are embarrassed about their habits and actions, and the shame can lead to lifelong consequences.

Acknowledging the feeling – whether it’s the shame of knowing your own faults or the embarrassment that comes with having an alcoholic in the family – is essential. As one may learn in rehab for alcoholics, facing the issue is the most crucial step in resolving it.

Why Alcoholics Feel Shame

Shame often comes from the idea that alcoholism is a character flaw, which is not the case. An alcoholic doesn’t usually want to be that way, but biological and sociological factors often keep them from finding help. While shame is a constant during every step of recovery, it can also be the catalyst for change.

Why Some Fail

Researchers evaluated patients’ misconceptions and the barriers they faced during recovery. Many try to quit alone, and those from small towns often seek anonymity because of their shame. Similarly, some alcoholics are reluctant to use their insurance benefits to pay for the help they need. Here, shame can lead to failure.

Successful Treatment Requires Sensitivity and Courtesy

Phrasing plays a role in an alcoholic’s decision to overcome shame and seek treatment. Instead of referring to the condition as alcoholism, families should consider using terms such as alcohol use disorder. Likewise, physicians must be non-judgmental when helping patients explore recovery options and forming strategies.

Confronting Shame Head-On

An alcoholic’s feelings of shame are a sign that they’ve already acknowledged the problem but are afraid to act. A person may know their drinking habits are problematic, but knowledge doesn’t always equate to action.

It takes courage to admit a drinking problem, and the shame that would come with a failed attempt at recovery would be unbearable. In many cases, alcoholics feel that it’s easier to ignore the problem than to face the shame that may come with it. While seeking professional help is a wise decision, it’s just as important to understand the alcoholic’s mindset and the shame that comes with it.

Drinking and Shame: An Endless Cycle

Just because a person has decided not to face their shame by seeking help for alcoholism, doesn’t mean those feelings go away. Many turn to the only thing that makes them feel better: the bottle. Alcoholism and shame create a circular pathway that can lead to destructive behavior and detrimental effects on others.

Shame is caused by various social and environmental factors, and it often leads to feelings of inadequacy that trigger further dependency. When an alcoholic feels shame, they also feel the need to hide from reality.

Shame Keeps Alcoholics From Seeking Help

Shame over drinking creates a significant barrier to finding help. Successful treatment requires the alcoholic to face their shame publicly, which is incredibly hard. While admitting there’s a problem is a turning point in recovery, it still carries a social stigma that keeps many from seeking the help they need.

Don’t Let Shame Limit You

There’s great shame in alcoholism, but there’s enormous pride in recovery. Once you’ve confronted your shame and laid all the cards on the table, your story can become a driver of change and an inspiration to others who may suffer in silence.