How to Forgive Yourself? Letting Go of Guilt and Shame in Recovery

Breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be one of the hardest battles you’ll ever face. It’s a life-long journey that involves a daily commitment to staying clean and being healthy. Addicts have often made so many mistakes to feed their addiction that a sudden realization brings on waves of guilt and shame. How many relationships were severed? How many people got burned? How many lies were told?


Guilt and Shame in Recovery

It’s hard to look back at your addiction years without feeling deep pangs of regret and intense shame. When you’re starting to sober up from drugs or alcohol, you’ll quickly realize that there is guilt and shame in recovery. The important thing is not to let this guilt or shame drive you back to your addictive behavior.


The Shame Cycle

When you’re a recovering addict, there is guilt for what you did and shame for not having made better decisions. Avoiding your past errors leads to more shame, which then becomes a vicious cycle where you feel hopeless, worthless, and even suicidal.

The first step to emerging from your shame cycle is to write down all the mistakes you believe you made and then figure out how you can learn from them. Be proactive in performing positive actions that will create positive feedback. The antidote to shame is pride. If you do things that will make you proud of who you are and how you behave, your pride will slowly chip away at your shame.


How To Forgive Yourself

You must learn how to forgive yourself to move on. If you don’t, you’ll beat yourself down to a pulp. You’ll never learn to heal, and you’ll never learn to rebuild your life. This doesn’t happen overnight. Learning how to forgive yourself can take years. But there are steps you can do to aid in the process.

  • Understand why you did what you did: Does your addiction to drugs stem from physical abuse or sexual abuse when you were a child? Is it PTSD? Can you identify the cause? The person who started abusing drugs or alcohol was in pain, and that person is you. You suffered too.
  • Take responsibility for your actions: You were hurt, and your addictive behavior hurt others. You may have never gotten an apology for the pain people caused you, but you can now apologize for the pain you have caused others. It’s time to break the cycle.


Letting Go of Guilt

It may be hard to believe but your act of feeling guilty is a healthy step forward. It means you acknowledge that you stepped over the line and broke your own code of ethics. Now that you are aware of how you transgressed, you can grow from your errors and gain some knowledge on how to become a better person. Letting go of guilt is a necessary step so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again and again. You err, you learn, you try again.


How To Get Over Guilt

Getting over guilt takes time. You need time to purge, you need time to articulate your addictive past, and you need time to analyze each stage. Write everything down or talk to someone close to you. The goal here is to get it out. Put your entire addict story out in the open and dissect it. Once you can scrutinize it and take it apart, you’ll be able to make better decisions on how to get over the guilt and how to take the appropriate steps towards healing.


Launch Centers Academic Outpatient

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.

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The Emotional Consequences of Substance Abuse

The impact of substance abuse has far-reaching consequences. It is estimated that over 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. When you consider the families and friends affected by the cycle of addiction, both directly and indirectly, the problem goes much deeper. Struggling with addiction is incredibly difficult, but it’s also difficult for loved ones who have to deal with an addict as they ride a wave of self-destruction. The emotional effects of substance abuse are widespread and the consequences are severe. Addiction is a family disease.


When people think about the harrows of addiction, the focus tends to center around the physical and economic aspects of the problem. The perception that the impoverished and homeless are the only ones suffering from substance abuse disorders needs to fade away. Being able to hold down a steady job and be functional while abusing substances doesn’t render the problem less serious. Quite the contrary. Living a double life isn’t sustainable in the long run, and often cause tremendous hurt and neglect to those around you.


While the physical dangers of addiction pose a very real threat, the mental and emotional hardships often go unaddressed. In fact, most substance abuse is a byproduct of an existing mental health disorder that can be benefited with dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis is a model of addiction treatment that treats addiction while simultaneously uncovering and treating mental and emotional issues. And the emotional stability of the addict isn’t the only issue that needs to be addressed. Family therapy can greatly benefit everyone involved by bringing to light the way a family functions as a unit.


The emotional consequences of addiction can run deeper and last longer than the physical ones. Trauma leaves a lasting mark. Not only for the addict but for their friends and family. Emotional scars can last a lifetime without treatment from trained mental health professionals. In most cases, substance abuse is an unhealthy coping mechanism that was developed as a reaction to early childhood trauma. In order to fully recover from years of substance abuse, these issues (and the damage they have caused loved ones) must be addressed. To fully recover from a substance abuse disorder, it is necessary to undergo a variety of therapies to get to the heart of the problem.


Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them. If you or someone you love suffers from the emotional effects of drug or alcohol addiction, contact Launch Centers to seek immediate help.

Relapse Prevention: Activities for Recovery

Enrolling in and experiencing a rehab program is a wonderful step that you’ve taken for yourself. Now, however, you are emphasizing your need to stay away from drugs and alcohol. As a result, you want to make certain that relapse doesn’t occur. Knowing strategies for avoiding relapse and what to do if a relapse does happen are crucial.


Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

Before entering rehab, you may have asked yourself, “What is a relapse?” Now, you know that a relapse is when you go back to using drugs or alcohol. It is important to speak with your counselor about specific conditions that govern your relapse. For example, you may want to know more about the specific factors that could influence you to relapse, and what to do to prevent it.


Manage Emotional Triggers

You’ve probably also learned about emotional triggers in your inquiry into “What is a relapse?” Understanding how to identify and manage your own triggers is pivotal. You may learn that you need to entirely stay away from certain scenarios, yet doing so may prove difficult. Therefore, it is also imperative to understand how to handle triggers when you are faced with them.


Call Someone You Trust

In the event that you feel yourself about to relapse, you should speak with another individual. In discovering what to do when you relapse, you will realize that you do not need to face this situation without guidance and support. You could speak with a counselor from a rehab facility, or you could talk with a trusted loved one who can help guide you through the situation.



Learning about relapse prevention also involves finding activities that you can pursue in place of using drugs and alcohol. Working out is definitely a helpful method because it can take your mind off of the desire to relapse. Also, exercising is a way to get your body into a more healthy state. You may very well not want to hurt the health that you’ve worked so hard for by using drugs and alcohol.



Sometimes, finding a strong sense of internal peace is a power relapse prevention strategy. As you’re considering relapse prevention activities, think about meditation. You could join a class where other people are meditating, or you could do guided meditations at home by yourself. These meditations can help to direct your emotional and mental energy in a positive way, and you may learn about yourself too.



Depending upon the rehab program you attended, you might have engaged in some art therapy practices during your time in recovery. Even if you don’t think that you have the best art skills, you could draw, paint or work with clay as part of your relapse prevention plan. It’s true that these activities give you something positive to do, but they also allow you to convey your emotions in a safe manner.


Recovery Journaling

Whether you’ve always wanted to polish your writing skills or you are already proficient in the art, picking up a pen or opening up a laptop and pouring out your emotions can provide a tremendous release. You may find that you’re writing personal information in a way that allows you to let go of negative feelings and urges. You might also discover a love for creative writing that you want to share with the world.



Having healthy, meaningful activities in which to engage is an important part of your relapse prevention plan. However, this statement doesn’t mean that you have to constantly participate in your hobby. You can also socialize with the people whom you love. Think about how much a text message from a friend or phone call from a relative can put you into a better state of mind. It takes a village to beat addiction.


What To Do When You Relapse?

Relapse prevention activities offer helpful ways to avoid relapse, yet it is possible that you will relapse. Understanding what to do when you relapse is, therefore, also important. Whether you have relapsed or you feel on the verge of a relapse, you can speak with a counselor. Know that people are here to help you.

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.

Coping with Emotional Triggers & Addiction

Everyone reacts to and handles stress in a personalized way. Specific triggers often set off a range of emotions that aren’t always the healthiest. The ways that people deal with stress are coping mechanisms, which help manage painful, difficult, and stressful situations. Situations such as loss of a job, a breakup, or a health problem can create difficult situations where stress levels skyrocket, and it’s up to you to handle it appropriately. Those dealing with alcohol and drug addiction need to learn successful coping strategies on the way to recovery.


What Are Emotional Triggers?

You may have heard the term, but have you ever thought about emotional triggers? They are events in your brain that occur when you are facing a difficult situation. Emotions skyrocket, and you might react quickly with fear, anger, or jealousy. The reaction at the time might not be appropriate for the situation, but by the time you realize it, the damage has been done.

Your triggers depend on what you value in life and how you react to various emotions. Some people are angered easily, others get hurt or depressed, while others stay calm and collected. Each person is different, and emotional triggers vary from one to another. No two people are exactly alike. The key to handling your emotional triggers is to identify and cope with them.


Emotion-Focused Coping

Emotion-focused coping is one of two coping mechanisms you can employ when dealing with a stressful situation. The other is problem-focused coping. Emotional coping is ideal in circumstances where an individual has no control over the situation and only has the option to react to emotions such as fear, anger, embarrassment, or frustration. One way to handle the situation is to distract yourself with other thoughts or an activity. You might also choose to pray, meditate, journal, or disclosing sensitive information in an attempt to identify and cope with the emotions. Negative ways people cope with stress include drug use, overeating, alcohol use, and suppressing emotions.

A criticism of this coping mechanism is that it tends to lead to negative results. Reacting to stress ignores the reason for the stress and does little to prevent the response from happening again. It is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Women report using these strategies more than men, who rely on problem-focused coping.


Problem-Focused Coping

A problem-focused approach tackles stress and its causes at the root of the issue. Taking care of the issue, instead of reacting or ignoring it, resolves the problem and reduces stress currently and in the future. Common techniques include problem-solving, focusing on time-management, and gaining support from others. This coping mechanism is more effective and is a better way to handle emotions in most cases because it tackles the issue directly. Many men default to problem-based instead of emotion-based coping strategies to handle emotional triggers.

In some situations, such as the death of a loved one, it’s not possible to use problem-focused strategies. It’s an effective method if you can modify the source of the stress, such as studying for an exam or completing a project at work before the deadline arrives. Optimistic individuals are more likely to use this method to cope with stress, and pessimistic people turn to emotion-focused ways to deal.

Handling emotional situations and triggers requires determining what they are, how you react, and how you can change your reaction or the situation to reduce stress. Taking time to think things through can elicit a better, more appropriate response to the stressor. Before you can develop coping strategies and implement them, you must carefully scrutinize yourself and identify the areas you need to work on. Instead of pushing your emotions to the back of your mind, learn how to change how you react and gain the freedom to control how you feel.


Launch Centers

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed in life. Our experienced mental health and substance abuse treatment team works with each client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.

Setting Emotional Boundaries in Recovery

Setting boundaries in relationships is an important part of human interaction. But it is especially important for those in recovery. For people who suffer from addiction, it is necessary that they (and those around them) establish emotional boundaries during the recovery process. Doing so will drastically decrease the likelihood of relapse.

You may ask yourself, what is an emotional boundary? Emotional boundaries are “rules” that establish what is and what is not acceptable in a relationship. Emotional boundaries are crucial to the successful recovery of the person suffering from addiction, and their loved ones.


Unhealthy Emotional Boundaries in Recovery

Oftentimes, those who struggle with addiction have developed unhealthy boundaries with those around them. Many of their relationships (spouse, guardian, friends, etc.) are codependent. In a codependent relationship, it is common to have a difficult time saying “no” to the person with an addiction, while making extreme sacrifices (e.g. calling off work, missing bill payments) to satisfy their demands. You may even lie or hide things from others to help hide the person’s addiction. It is also likely you have learned to “keep quiet” about the person’s addiction to avoid arguments and to avoid upsetting them. All of these are signs of codependency, which is the result of setting unhealthy boundaries.


Some examples of unhealthy boundaries during recovery include:
  • Forcing opinions and beliefs on others
  • Blaming yourself for other people’s emotions or actions
  • Ignoring other people’s thoughts and opinions as being irrelevant
  • Giving up your own beliefs and opinions based on the direction of others


Unhealthy boundaries are harmful to the addicted individual and those around them. In fact, a lack of boundaries can encourage codependency; further fueling the person’s addiction. An important part of recovery is the genuine expression of feelings and opinions. Healthy boundaries promote this behavior. Unhealthy boundaries, on the other hand, encourage feelings of guilt and resentment. In recovery, it is important to eliminate unhealthy boundaries while simultaneously creating healthy ones.


Healthy Emotional Boundaries in Recovery

Creating healthy boundaries is a crucial step in the addicted person’s journey to recovery. Some examples of healthy boundaries in recovery include:


  • Being able to express yourself and your opinions
  • Respecting the thoughts and opinions of others
  • Respecting your own thoughts and opinions
  • Being able to act responsibly in all you say and do


Setting boundaries allows both parties to establish their rights within the relationship. For example, while you cannot control the person with an addiction, you do have the right to establish what the person can and cannot do within your own home, such as stating that the addict is not allowed to use under your roof. This helps to create clear expectations within the relationship that reduce the chaos that accompanies unhealthy boundaries.


Setting Boundaries in Relationships

When setting boundaries in relationships, it is important to know your own personal limits. Every person has a line that should not be crossed, and you should know yours and stick to the consequences you decide upon when such lines are crossed. However, it is just as important to remember not to act harshly when lines are crossed and to refrain from passive-aggressive types of behaviors. Words said in anger are often better left unsaid, but unfortunately, they cannot be taken back. When setting boundaries in a relationship, respect yourself and others and work to move on from the past and move forward in the journey to recovery.


Launch Centers is Here to Help

At Launch Centers, we understand the difficult challenge that setting healthy boundaries can present to those who suffer from addiction and their families. Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced mental health and substance abuse treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.