Addiction isn’t a shame. There’s nothing shameful about addiction or recovery. Addiction can’t be a shame because shame is a feeling based on false beliefs. Though addiction involves a lot of feelings, and a lot of false beliefs, it isn’t just a feeling. Addiction is widely considered to be a mental illness. Call a mental illness what makes the most sense to you- mental disorder, mental health disorder, or a brain disease. Shaming those with addiction for being addicts is like shaming a dog for wanting to run outside. Drug addiction becomes part of someone’s life because of a chemical dependency which overtakes their natural programming. Recovering addicts need to be retrained and taught how to live again. When they take hold of that initiative and run with it, their lives change in tremendous ways, benefitting themselves and the lives of many others. In this, there is hardly any shame.

Seeking Help

Seeking help by calling a treatment center or a recovery service provider like Hired Power is often thwarted by the idea of shame associated with addiction. Shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Addicts feel shame for many reasons. First, they feel ashamed that they let their addictions get so far and carry them away in their lives. Second, they feel ashamed that they ever got addicted in the first place and were never able to stop. Third, they feel humiliated for being addicted.

Less Polarization is Key

The more that we polarize addiction is being a shameful matter of choice and moral consequence the more we contribute to this harmful narrative of painful humiliation. Feeling too humiliated to ask for help or being deserving of help causes addicts their lives every single day. Rather than face the pain of shame, they turn to the comfort of what they know- drugs and alcohol.

Addicts’ shame belongs to them because of the shame society creates. Addiction is an illness, it isn’t a character defect. We cannot shame our loved ones into seeking help. They’ll punish themselves for the rest of their lives. Together, we have to shift the paradigm when it comes to addiction and helping our loved ones who are addicted. Recovery isn’t about trying to make a “bad” person turn “good”. It’s about helping someone who has fallen sick become well again.


At Hired Power, we understand the depth and complication of addiction. Each of us has personal and professional experience with addiction and recovery. Our team is waiting to help you and your family make the choice to see recovery and put shame aside. Permanent recovery is possible. Hired Power is here to get you there. For more information, call 1-800-910-9299.

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