Whether it is you or a loved one suffering from alcoholism, it is no secret the shame this disease brings about. Most shame appears for the alcoholic due to “wreckage of the past” and regret over actions that happened when using and under the influence. The other more surprising form of shame comes when alcoholics get sober, then feel embarrassed and fearful of what others are going think about it. Why not feel proud for getting sober? Well the hope is that all sober alcoholics find, and begin to feel a sense of pride for the courage they have bestowed in facing their addiction and getting help. Families can help the alcoholic by putting resentments aside, and giving positive feedback, as there will be a time and place to work through those resentments down the road.
Dr. Brene Brown has started a series of TED Talks on this topic, she has explored shame and vulnerability extensively, and her episodes have reached over 6 million views. She has spent time identifying these topics, then providing proper education and dialogue to decrease the negativity of these feelings in the alcoholic. There is also a great movie out there called “The Anonymous People” speaking to what Dr. Brown has shared about; it addresses why the 12-step culture of anonymity is so beneficial to alcoholics and addicts alike. It discusses the paranoia that many alcoholics have in early recovery when trying so hard to keep their sobriety anonymous. It also explains how it is likely for this to change over time. As the alcoholic gets more confident in their recovery, they learn that letting up on some of their anonymity can really benefit newcomers just starting their journey to recovery.
It is so important for alcoholics to not just know, but to truly believe that their achievement of recovery is a huge accomplishment, and something we hope they find a way to be prideful of. May shame turn into pride for those who are brave enough to admit they are an alcoholic, and who seek support and treatment to achieve a better life!