Overcoming addiction to drugs or alcohol and establishing a fulfilling life of sobriety as an alumnus is an amazing accomplishment. Even as alumni continue to navigate challenges and stresses, celebrating these accomplishments is paramount. However, some alumni may find it difficult to celebrate their profound steps toward a healthier life, with many harboring feelings of guilt due to their past use of addictive substances. Overcoming guilt as an alumnus and addressing past use and its consequences is vital, but inevitably difficult, and Hawaii Island Recovery can help each alumnus address these feelings of guilt for a truly transformed sober life.
The Guilt of Past Use
Addiction is a powerful, devastating disease that affects all areas of a person’s life. Even those who have since ceased the use of drugs or alcohol and engaged in successful alcohol or opioid addiction treatment can still be left to deal with the consequences of past use. For many, addictive substances can have a continued effect on a person’s physical health, while others may continue to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders informed by the use of drugs or alcohol.
Alumni may also have to cope with other challenges of past use on a more personal level. Compromised trust between family members and loved ones, compromised relationships or social groups, or even the loss of a job, driver’s license, and more are all possible due to addiction. Alumni can hold intense feelings of guilt about each of these things. Finding a way to overcome such intense feelings of guilt is necessary for a truly effective recovery.
Without confronting these feelings of guilt, they can continue to affect a person’s emotional health and feelings of self-worth or bring feelings of depression, shame, and more. Working with peers, family, and professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery can empower each alumnus to continue their recovery journey by challenging feelings of guilt from past use.
Strategies for Overcoming Guilt as an Alumnus
Past use of addictive substances can have continued and profound effects on alumni. However, effective treatment programs and continuing care efforts can all help to address these feelings as an alumnus. Hawaii Island Recovery is always available to help each alumnus explore new ways of addressing and coping with feelings of guilt.
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Alumni who have graduated from Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated residential treatment program are not “done” with addiction recovery. Rather, staying engaged in recovery efforts and communities is a necessary part of continued recovery, especially when coping with the guilt of past use.
Staying engaged with peers who are navigating similar challenges can help normalize and legitimize these feelings, and can help prevent alumni from thinking they are somehow a “failure” when faced with such challenging situations. Likewise, community and recovery engagement can help an individual continue to focus on their progress just as much as past use and the guilts therein, creating a necessary perspective to contextualize their experiences and prevent self-destructive thoughts or behaviors.
Continuing to attend weekly outpatient treatment and group therapy sessions, meeting with friends and family to engage in recovery-focused activities, and constantly adjusting and updating milestones, treatment plans, and more can all help an individual address feelings of guilt without compromising their hard-earned sobriety.
Truly Acknowledge Guilt of Past Use
Guilt from past use can be difficult to address and brings a plethora of uncomfortable emotions and memories. However, to truly overcome feelings of guilt from mistakes made while engaging with addictive substances, it is important to be willing to confront these difficult challenges directly. Creating a safe and supportive space at home or engaging in effective group therapy and community support groups can empower alumni to confront these feelings and memories.
Even if this creates a very vulnerable situation, discussing specific events and consequences of addictive substances is necessary to truly empower alumni to forgive themselves and move on from these feelings. While generalities can do little to truly process these feelings, having specific events can facilitate the best path to healing from these experiences.
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Putting in the effort to make amends with friends, family, and loved ones is difficult, but it can also be essential for moving on from pervasive feelings of guilt. Talking with those whom a person believes they have wronged and taking responsibility for their actions is a powerful thing. The act of making amends can also help transform these relationships and overcome feelings of guilt, resentment, and more while creating an opportunity to truly heal these relationships and empower alumni and loved ones to embrace forgiveness.
Become Educated About Addiction
Continuing to educate oneself about addiction as a disease and not a personal, moral failing can help alumni and families reach new levels of understanding, and affect how a person may view themselves in sobriety. Understanding how addiction affects the brain, decision-making faculties, and more can all be important in challenging feelings of self-blame and self-belittlement in sobriety. Reaching this understanding with loved ones and understanding the role that addiction played in a person’s past use and mistakes can be necessary to effectively overcome feelings of guilt while creating an effective plan for the future.
Feelings of guilt following a person’s sober transformation are common. However, we at Hawaii Island Recovery are always available to help. We believe in a holistic approach to alcohol and opioid addiction treatment that addresses not just the symptoms and challenges of addiction but the continued impact it has on each person’s life. Addressing feelings of guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, and more are all part of an effective treatment plan, and our community of peers and professionals alike are ready to help you explore these challenging feelings to empower you to be the catalyst of your sober change. For information on how we can help you confront feelings of guilt, call us at (866) 390-5070.