Shifting Away from Self-Blame in Recovery

Updated on 01/17/23

Self-blame can hinder a person’s ability to heal from addiction. A little bit of self-love and forgiveness can go a long way when a person begins treatment for alcohol or drug addiction.

Society and individuals tend to place blame on the person instead of genetics or environmental factors. Addiction isn’t something that happens without other mitigating factors. A person’s genetics or environment can play a large role in their addictive behavior. 

Instead of internalizing feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment, a person can benefit from addiction therapy, including testing genetic, environmental or mental health disorders. All three factors can affect how a person responds to stress, depression or anxiety. Self-blame is destructive yet is a treatable behavior. Once addressed, a therapist can look at the factors most likely contributing to addiction.

Self-Blame and Addiction

Self-blame is a form of self-loathing. The Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine defines self-blame as: the attribution that the consequences one experiences directly result from one’s actions or character. In the context of behavioral medicine, this may be either beneficial or harmful depending on if it leads to positive behavior change, or an increased negative affectivity and lack of behavior change. 

A person with the tendency for self-blame can relate their feeling of control over their lives. Those with the belief they have control over their lives focus on events that don’t go as planned. The article, Characterological Versus Behavioral Self-Blame: Inquiries into Depression and Rape, states there are two types of self-blame: behavioral and characterological. The author explains:

Behavioral self-blame is control related, involves attributions to a modifiable source (one’s behavior), and is associated with a belief in the future avoidance of a negative outcome. Characterological self-blame is esteem related, involves attributions to a relatively nonmodifiable source (one’s character), and is associated with a belief in personal deservingness for past negative outcomes. 

People can’t control everything. A person’s genetic makeup, brain chemistry and environment are beyond their control. Once a person realizes they can’t change their genes or environment, they can change how they respond to those factors and healing can begin.

Self-Love and Recovery

Self-love is the ability for a person to embrace who they are and accept what they cannot control. A person who practices self-love isn’t selfish or egotistical; they practice a form of healing and nurturing their body, mind and spirit. People who take care of themselves as they would take care of loved ones learn how to adopt positive habits into their lives. People who practice self-love learn to welcome and embrace their flaws, understanding they are not harmful. Imperfections make a person beautiful and whole. 

People are flawed. Genes or their environment shape how they react to outside stimuli like alcohol or drugs. Individual, group or holistic therapy modes can help a person learn why they respond adversely to substances or external stimuli. 

Treatment centers that include the philosophy of treating the person, not the disease, provide a positive space for recovery. A person shouldn’t be limited to one form of treatment. Through attentive and responsive care, a person can explore holistic therapies like yoga, meditation, journaling, art and reflection.

When these therapies are combined with group or individual therapy, a person can achieve go from blaming themselves for their addiction to overcoming addiction with self-love. 

A person who believes they can control everything can experience feelings of blame, guilt, shame or embarrassment. Addiction isn’t a lack of control; it is affected by a person’s genes, brain chemistry or environment. Understanding addiction and the link between the environment and a person’s genetic line increases a person’s well-being. At Cliffside Malibu, we treat a person as a whole, not as a disease. We want to see you succeed in moving from self-blame to self-love. That’s why we tailor your treatment to fit your needs. We are a luxurious, private treatment center that wants you to feel comfortable while focusing on your well-being. Call us for more information at (855) 403-5641.