Guilt as a Barrier to Recovery


Guilt is defined as a feeling of regret or responsibility for real or imagined offenses. It is usually felt when someone has broken a societal code or personal ethical standard. Guilt is a painful and deeply personal emotion that is a big contributor to the cycle of addiction. It fuels it. People who are not addicts typically carry some regrets from the past that make them feel a sense of guilt. Drug abusers are different. They carry an excessive amount of guilt that can be a hindrance to sobriety. When a person is high, he or she does things that are out of character. It is a tough thing to come to terms with when the person sobers up. Herein lays the complexity of guilt for a person in recovery. They know that under normal circumstances most malicious acts they have committed would never have happened. Here are a few examples of how guilt impacts substance abusers:

  • Financial damages
  • Impact on family
  • Damage to themselves such as health problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Regret for things said or done to others

Guilt can be mentally overwhelming. Typically people who use substances lie and often try to hide their use. They commit dishonest acts. They isolate themselves to protect loved ones from harm. All of these misguided actions lead to increased guilt. Guilt tends to snowball and the longer a person uses drugs and alcohol, the faster it grows. The stigma of being an addict and not being able to stop using can be a contributor of guilt on its own. Think about it. Someone who used an illegal substance is aware they are committing a wrong and yet do it anyways. This continual betrayal of ethics creates a circle of guilt.


When a person gets sober and gives up their old lifestyle, what is to be done about all the guilt they are clinging to? The answer is to sit down and do a thorough examination of all wrongdoings. Actions taken that resulted in harm toward self or others and also actions not taken that harmed both need to be confronted. Take a look at this video and you will clearly see the effects of guilt on this man and his struggles to regain his sense of worth.

Guilt free Girl

By confronting guilt, people in recovery can come to terms with the past and learn to let it go. This process lays the groundwork for a better future. People become shadows of themselves through active addiction and the peace of mind that can be found in sobriety is amazing. Virtues that were stripped away and put back in place. The rate of success in recovery increases dramatically when guilt is shed away. Years of negative thoughts about self are replaced with a clear conscience that can propel a person forward.

Please call1-855-646-8505 if you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. The Narconon program includes a course designed to rid a person of guilt and is revolutionary in the field of alcohol and drug rehab.



I am a graduate of the Narconon program currently working for Narconon Arrowhead as Director of Promotion and Marketing.