convince a loved one to go to rehab

Regardless of what the TV shows lacking nuances and perpetuating problematic stereotypes may tell you, addiction is not something to be ashamed of. Shame can often be a natural response to feelings of inadequacy and guilt – both of which tend to be part and parcel of addictions, wherein they can be its cause as well as its effect. Destigmatizing this guilt and shame, therefore, becomes pivotal in embracing alcohol and drug rehab for a better, healthier life.

Guilt, Inadequacy, and Shame

Let’s consider why people end up developing an addiction to a drug or alcohol in the first place. According to the Gateway Foundation, experiencing childhood trauma in some shape or form is responsible for about two-thirds of all the cases of addiction that people struggle with later in their lives.

It’s important to remember here that traumatic life events aren’t just hard to deal with emotionally, they can also alter one’s brain structure – which, in turn, can cause PTSD and substance addictions to develop. Experiencing trauma can induce feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness in a person, sometimes even leading to them feeling guilty for their traumatic life events; they may seek solace in substance use to ease off the guilt.

Once the addiction has developed, however, shame can take over in view of the hurt that addictions can cause to people’s loved ones. Eventually, it can become an endless loop, breaking free from which can be so rewarding despite its difficulty level.

The Silver Lining Of Guilt

While the negative connotations of guilt stand true, it’s also important to remember that it, too, is a double-edged sword. There can be a silver lining to it, making it a significant player in the recovery process.

This is because of its ability to motivate a person towards recovery by making them realise the harmful effects of their addiction. Nevertheless, too much guilt accumulated over a long period of time can be counterproductive – strengthening shame and making it tougher for the person to progress towards treatment due to their belief that they are too weak to abandon their addiction.

Such feelings can also be present in people who have come out of active addiction and are on the road to healing, which will erode their self-esteem and harm them in other ways.

Treating Addiction

For someone plagued by intense shame and guilt, merely thinking about treating their addiction can also overwhelm them, driving them away from the road to recovery. However, with a support system in place, this daunting process can be made easier for the person struggling with it.

Here are a few steps that may benefit those with alcohol or drug addiction, especially if they’re searching for a glimmer of hope and a nudge in the right direction:

  1. Address your feelings of shame. Through introspection, trace the root of your shame. First, acknowledge your feelings, be kind to yourself, and then muster the courage to apologise to those you might have hurt during this time owing to your shame. They may or may not forgive you (especially immediately), but it will help put your mind at relative ease and rid you of the burden of guilt.
  2. Ask for help. Just as there should be no shame in having an addiction, eliminate shame from seeking professional treatment and reaching out for help, too. Trying to heal on your own is commendable, but a little guidance from a professional can go a long way in making your treatment journey easier and more effective. Mental health professionals can help you trace the roots of your shame and confront it like no other. They can also draw linkages between your feelings and actions, both of which influence and are influenced by one another. Along with this, these professionals can also ease your symptoms and cravings through medication.
  3. Detoxify. Start moving towards a detox, but do this under safe medical supervision to prevent substance withdrawal from causing sudden, harsh physical symptoms – which can even be life-threatening in extreme cases. This is not a ‘treatment’ for addiction standalone, as much as it is a supplement to other forms of treatment.
  4. Rehabilitation through therapy. One of the most pertinent ways to embrace addiction therapy is by seeking rehabilitation through therapy. There is a multitude of therapies practised widely to assist people in this regard, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Contingency Management (CM), and twelve-step facilitation programs. These therapeutic techniques help teach people who are in recovery useful mechanisms for coping, preventing relapse and unlearning self-hate.

Motivation For Seeking Treatment

Despite our encouragement to seek treatment for your addiction, you may be wondering why you should put in the effort of doing so in the first place. Well, here’s why:

  1. Your autonomy matters. As individuals, autonomy over our choices, and major and minor life decisions is one of the most powerful survival tools we have. Addiction, however, deprives one of the ability to choose because of the changes that their brain undergoes via the continued use of the substance in question.
  2. Your body will thank you. Health is one of the most important things in the world for a person to have – which is likely to suffer over the course of one’s addiction. One of your main goals while seeking treatment should naturally be to become healthy again.
  3. Get those smart brain cells moving! With addiction usually comes apathy and a loss of interest in things one once used to find pleasure in. This includes pursuing an education and career. You should look for drug rehab then to help you reclaim your right to thoughtful self-development, upward socio-economic mobility, and increased autonomy over your life.


To conclude, alcohol and drug addiction is a problem that is usually birthed by trauma, and exacerbated by shame, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy. Guilt, in moderate forms, can help you put on track for recovery, though its excess can hurt you and your loved ones.

Recovery can be sought by acquiring medical help and practising detox. Factors like regaining one’s autonomy, restoring one’s health, and empowering oneself through educational and career-based successes are major factors that can help one embrace addiction treatment.

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