How To Best Deal With The Feelings Of Guilt And Shame Brought On By Alcoholism

How To Best Deal With The Feelings Of Guilt And Shame Brought On By Alcoholism

Although breaking an addiction is a physical process, which requires safely removing the body’s need for a substance, the psychological process involved is also critical.

If you don’t work through the complex emotional feelings associated with alcohol, the dependence will still be there when you finish your rehab, making it all too easy to fall back into bad habits.

Why do you feel guilty?

Alcoholism describes a destructive cycle in which when drinking you behave in a harmful way towards yourself and potentially others. This then leads to feelings of guilt and shame, which you only feel able to deal with if you drink again, leading to the same behaviour and so completing the vicious circle.

Feelings of guilt and shame are very common in people with addictions. Although these are unpleasant emotions, they’re actually a key step in your recovery, as they signal that you are starting to accept that you have a problem. Recognising that you are behaving in ways that you wouldn’t if you didn’t have this dependency is the first step to getting help.

How does alcohol affect your feelings?

The things that we recognise as feelings and emotions are determined by a delicate balance between certain chemicals, chemical receptors and neurotransmitters in our brains.

Alcohol and drugs contain substances that change how this balance works, leading to a disruption in our natural chemical levels and producing feelings of euphoria, higher levels of empathy and elevated confidence. Feelings of guilt and shame are alleviated, albeit temporarily, by these chemicals.

However, alcohol is also a depressant, and when the chemicals start to decrease, these feelings become more acute. For this reason, you’ll often end up feeling worse than when you began, beginning the cycle again. This cycle is at the very heart of addiction, as you become programmed to believe alcohol to be the only remedy to these painful feelings.

Luckily, there is a healthier way out of this cycle.

How rehab can help you cope with guilt and shame

The core of your rehabilitation experience is helping you to heal from the negative thought processes that fuel your addiction. With rehab you will learn to:

  • Let go of your guilt and shame
  • Forgive yourself
  • Reject negative thought patterns

Therapy sessions, both one on one and in a group, will help you to unpack these emotions by:

Working out why you feel guilty

Sessions with psychotherapists will help you to ask yourself questions to work out what you feel that you are to blame for. Perhaps you have hurt family and friends, or broken promises to partners. Coming up with a comprehensive list of the things you feel you have failed at should help you to work through them.

Unloading the burden of shame

Discussing these things both one on one and in a group helps you to alleviate the burden you feel. Being completely honest in these sessions is important so that you are no longer holding onto any secrets. Group sessions help you to understand that you are not alone in the mistakes that you have made.

Accepting your mistakes

You can learn through therapy that certain mistakes are and have always been outside your control. Finding out more about the mental health side of addiction and how this can cause patterns to repeat helps you to understand your own process and accept it.

Forgiving yourself

Therapy helps you to isolate the destructive inner voice that brings you down and makes you feel that you are beyond help so that you can stop being influenced by it. You will learn how to practice self-compassion and understand that all of the things you have done that make you feel guilty are part of a life that you are no longer living.


By the end of your therapy, you should be able to acknowledge specific incidences of wrongdoing, admit fault and express remorse. Sessions with psychotherapists and your group will help you to accept it will take some people longer to forgive than others and be patient.

You will also get help with making your apologies, with family sessions available to help you to discuss these things with the back-up of a mental health professional.

Making a change

Finally, your sessions will motivate you to honour the new promises that you have made and make meaningful changes to your life going forward. Although apologising to friends and family is important, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do this final step. This time your promises need to stick.

How we can help

Cassiobury Court offers a range of rehabilitation therapies to get you on the right track, within a safe and comfortable setting. We deal with every aspect of recovery so that you are completely prepared for everyday life once you leave our care, with all of the emotional tools you need at your disposal.

Psychological therapies

Recovery is dependent on biological changes, but psychological changes must also be made to ensure that the dependence is broken. Psychological therapies are there to make fundamental changes in the way that you think, feel and behave, and at Cassiobury Court these include:

Wellbeing therapies

A holistic approach to mental health therapy has proven vital to long-term recovery, complementing other treatments and building healthy behaviours into everyday life. These therapies are designed to increase self-awareness and build confidence, as well as alleviate stress and anxiety. Wellbeing therapies offered include:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Mindfulness classes
  • Art, drama and music therapy
  • Reiki, reflexology and aromatherapy
  • Sleep management therapy
  • Massage therapies

Social activities

One of the most important types of therapy to help you to cope when you go back into the outside world, social therapy helps you to rediscover who you really are without the comfort blanket of alcohol. You can relearn how to have fun and be confident in a social setting, without needing to drink, so that you don’t become bored and get drawn back into drinking. Our social activities include:

  • Quiz nights and film nights
  • Walks and runs with the group
  • Group outings
  • Family visits
  • Group art sessions

Get in touch

Cassiobury Court is located in a relaxed and peaceful setting where the setting and staff contribute to a harmonious and healing environment.

Our focus is on offering you what you need to become the person you want to be and helping you lay the foundations of a life free from addiction and anguish.

We can be reached on 01923 369161 or you can text HELP to 83222