The Role of Toxic Shame in Addiction and Alcoholism

The Role of Toxic Shame in Addiction and Alcoholism

Shame is considered to be a “self-conscious emotion” by many mental health professionals. Being able to differentiate between guilt and shame is important because it can influence your behaviors and reactions. For example, guilt often motivates you to apologize, correct a mistake, or make amends with someone you’ve wronged.

getting over shame alcoholism and families anger

When one member of the family abuses alcohol, it causes disruption and disharmony within the family and thus, every member suffers. The impact of alcoholism on the family is so marked that it leads to the absolute breakdown of family as an entity.

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This may be especially true if the addiction has required them to miss time with their friends due to taking care of younger siblings or doing extra chores. Be sure that you reassure them that they didn't cause the addiction and there's nothing they could do to prevent their parent from drinking or using drugs. Additionally, you're able to share the truth about their parent's addiction and dispel some of the lies they may believe—like the faulty belief that they are somehow to blame or that they can “help” their parent get well. These types of beliefs can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in kids, such as codependency.

getting over shame alcoholism and families anger

If this form of anger goes unaddressed, it can be detrimental to your mental health and your relationships. Combined with alcoholism, it can be very dangerous to your physical health as well. The connection of anger with alcoholism is like a cycle. One allows you to escape from your other emotions, while the other allows you to escape further into anger. In a phrase, anger and alcohol abuse can feed off of each other if they both go unchecked.

What is a Dysfunctional Family and How Does it Lead to Co-dependency?

It normally involves an interpretation and evaluation of oneself as having let oneself down; of having broken promises to one’s own self . Non-human animals, at least the ones studied in addiction labs, are not self-interpretatively normed. Nor are they moved by thoughts of what counts as a good person/rodent, nor puzzled or disturbed by feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. The moral virtue or value alcoholism and anger of self-control and of responsibility for self is irrelevant to animal addiction. But with a human being, a person’s social relationships, the effects of his actions on others, his loyalties and friendships, his trustworthiness, are deeply relevant to his being an addicted human being10. Table 4 gives item-wise ratings on each item of scale to assess the coping strategies’ used by wives of alcoholics.

The shame condition in the twin normative failure model does not specify how much shame needs to be experienced. This could also be said of people with bipolar disorder when they are not in the grandiose bullet-proof phase, during which down-times they do backtrack, second-guess, and so on. Persons enter the world valuing certain things and not others and they exit the same way.


After all, kids are supposed to feel safe and secure at home without worrying if they will be cared for. But in homes with an addict, there is very little safety and security, which can make kids feel alone. What's more, they're often convinced that no one understands what they are going through.

  • Worrying and stressing about your loved one can take a toll on your mind and body, so find ways to relieve the pressure.
  • And this would follow from Stephen Porges, his research on the gut brain, you think about shame, what is shame?
  • Okazaki N, Fujita S, Suzuki K, Nimmi Y, Mizutani Y, Kohno H. Comparative study of health problems between wives of alcoholics and control wives.
  • I’ve got clients that have told me when they feel ashamed, they feel pain in their chest, they feel pain in their heart, and I think that’s quite literal.
  • When parents are drunk or high, sometimes they can do things that are mean or say things that don't make sense.

This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure FHE Health is trusted as a leader in mental health and addiction care. The best decision you can make is often the most difficult because it may involve putting your life, your family and your career on hold.

Take the First step for yourself or someone your love

First of all, what is the difference between guilt and shame? We may use these words interchangeably in a sentence, when in fact, these two words have significant differences and should be used to describe distinct situations. Simply put, guilt typically deals with harming ourselves, while shame implies harming someone else. This is the best way to channel your feelings of anger without hurting yourself or others. Rather than avoiding confrontation, internalizing anger, or resorting to verbal insults and physical outbursts, you express your anger in ways that create change in the world around you. What the late Mo Mowlam, who was patron of Nacoa and whose father was an alcoholic, called the “hidden suffering” of UK families is getting worse as excessive drinking becomes more of an issue. “My mum comes with me to visit him sometimes and she is very good. I don't blame her for not leaving him as she loves my dad and always thought it might just be his last drink. But it never was.”

What are the signs of shame?

  • Feeling sensitive.
  • Feeling unappreciated.
  • Uncontrollable blushing.
  • Feeling used.
  • Feeling rejected.
  • Feeling like you have little impact.
  • Being worried what others think about you.
  • Worrying that you aren't treated with respect.

As a result, you need to assure them that it's OK to talk about the problem without having to feel scared, ashamed, or embarrassed. Remind them that they don't have to lie, cover for their parent, or keep secrets. Instead, encourage them to talk to someone that they trust—a teacher, counselor, foster parent, or members of a peer support group such as Alateen. Finally, when talking with teens, the first thing you need to consider is that they may be feeling resentful of the addiction.

Many people who have an alternate personality when they drink look back on it clarity when they sober up. Sometimes the shame of facing the things they did while intoxicated causes them to start drinking again, proliferating a vicious circle of substance use and abuse. Essentially, drinking makes us less likely to withhold our reactions when we’re angry or annoyed. This has an effect on the life of the person exhibiting this consistent anger. It makes people — even their closest friends — less willing to spend time with them. It can have a major impact on their family members’ quality of life and even be a detriment to the healthy development of any children they have.

People with alcohol problems frequently mistreat or abuse others, and when they’re sober they’re often plagued with guilt as a result of these actions. Having the ability to not only recognize the root causes of anger but also acknowledge how this secondary emotion prevents full health is a vital step in AUD and SUD recovery.