Guilt is not one of the more obvious triggers, but it is just as important as anything else in the recovery journey. In order to be holistically well throughout recovery, it is possible, imperative even, that individuals learn coping strategies for dealing with guilt which can be condensed into ten effective ways, which are outlined below.


Guilt Complex

Learning to cope with guilt is an integral part of recovery. The feelings of remorse for behaviors and actions done while in addiction can be either real or imagined but have harmful psychological, and even physical, effects on the individual experiencing them. It begins with an uncomfortable feeling experienced when a person feels something done was wrong or inappropriate. Guilt can have positive side effects or they can be negative. Some of the features include feelings of failure as a result of choices or actions, guilt based on morals and belief systems and also a violation of personal standards of conduct.



Here are 10 tips for dealing with feelings of guilt while in recovery. Every individual copes differently with these emotions but building a strategy for coping can help prevent relapse.



  • Facing guilt head on. Releasing oneself from guilty feelings by sharing, confessing and practicing honesty can be very therapeutic in a safe environment.
  • ForgivenessLearning to forgive oneself and releasing judgment is key to healthy recovery.
  • Self examinationUnderstanding where the feelings and thoughts came from can help negate irrational or inappropriate feelings of guilt when there was little to nothing that could be done in one’s own power to control the situation(s).
  • ChangeTaking decisive steps and creating an action plan so feelings of guilt and remorse go away. If something is being done which causes guilty feelings, stop doing it and the reason for feeling guilty will go away.
  • ClarifyNote new values developed for oneself and take action rather than look in the past. Be positive about what goals can be accomplished now as nothing in the past can be changed. A new perspective can help bring clarity and new vision for recovery goals.
  • PracticeAdopt a posture of forgiveness on a daily basis, for oneself and others. Do good, build empathy by serving other people and learn to forgive oneself.
  • ApologizeOffer an apology to demonstrate willingness to make peace where harm was done
  • Let goWhat’s done is done and cannot be changed. Forgiveness is sometimes a one way street so let go of people who are unwilling to forgive and perpetuate feelings of guilt. It is ok to let some people go.
  • Be presentMake a commitment to focus on positive behavioral changes which will influence better decision making in the future rather than focus on what cannot be changed or undone.
  • Avoid shameShame involves a feeling of inferiority and perception of oneself as a failure. People make mistakes, it is ok to let it go.



Get past guilt by putting these steps into practice every day. Be reasonable about expectations as change takes time but it is possible and will help a person thrive in recovery for the long haul.

Recovery is a journey. If you need help setting goals or need someone to talk to, Hired Power is here to help. Call today 800-910-9299 for help on overcoming addiction in a supportive environment.