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What role does shame play in drug or alcohol addiction?

Dr. Adi Jaffe, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Shame plays a very important role for those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, for a variety of different reasons. In this video, psychology and addiction specialist Adi Jaffe, PhD, explains how shame plays into the equation for addicts. 
Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine
Shame causes things to stay the same. Guilt causes one to try, and do, or act differently in the future regarding that for which they feel guilt. Therefore one could say guilt causes things to change. Shame, is an internalized message that essentially states that you are not deserving of any form of redemption. It reinforces the idea (s) that one is inherently bad or as my colleague stated, "broken". Only this is something that is broken and cannot be fixed, which is the central skewed thematic idea or value association of shame. Shame is very much like a fixed delusion, that the bearer is hard pressed to overcome because they so strongly believe it and it's dictates. It is important to note that shame can be overcome, as can self-hatred and other such similar mentally malignant manifestations. The solutions seem to be primarily rooted in the act of learning to love yourself again. This will come from you doing when and wherever you can acts of altruism. The more you help others the better you will begin to feel about yourself. If there was ever an issue that demanded that you get out of self and into helping others it is this issue. Shame is not something you need to overcome, it is something you must overcome if you are ever to assert a new life in recovery. 
George Joseph
Addiction Medicine
Shame is the belief that we are "broken," or that something is wrong with us as human beings. I have found shame to be the core component of addiction. When I can help a client move from the idea that they are "sick" or "defected of character" to an understanding that certain beliefs and behavior that once worked for them, are now hurting themselves and others, they become more open to change. When we have compassion for the wounded child within instead of condemnation or judgment, change can begin to happen and Step Six of Alcoholics Anonymous takes on a deeper meaning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.