It has been my experience that one of the greatest impediments to recovery is shame. Shame is the wall that encloses the addict into a world of crippling self-pity that only nourishes self-centeredness. The toxicity of shame allows the addict to allude themselves into believing that they are somehow unworthy of wellness. By immersing themselves in self-pity, the addict continues to keep themselves as the center of their university. The great lie of shame is that it is just another expression of narcissism and self-pity – a way to avoid confrontation one’s own disease, owning and claiming responsibility for one’s actions, attitudes and behavior. Thus keeping the addict from believing they are worthy of recovery, never mind working for recovery.
The only way to tear down the wall of shame is to expose the lie that supports the wall. Shame is the cancer that, left untreated, will destroy the addict. It is the malignant tumor that must be removed so that the seed of recovery can be planted.
How, then, can we tear down the wall of shame that imprisons the active addict/alcoholic. First, I think we need to not just say addiction is a disease, but believe, it, and show if by our actions, attitudes are deeds.
If your son or daughter or spouse was a diabetic, you would not blame them for their disease; you would not be ashamed of their disease. You wouldn’t avoid seeking treatment for their disease.
Then why if addiction is a disease do we blame the addict, be ashamed of the addict, avoid accepting the need for treatment for the addict? All of this indicates that although we say addiction is a disease, our actions say it is a moral choice and failure.
Now having said this, we also need to hold the addict/alcoholic responsible and accountable for their choices and actions. It would be unfair and unhelpful for us to accept or accommodate inappropriate, harmful or destructive behavior on behalf of the active alcoholic/addict.
The wall of shame enslaves the active addict/alcoholic in a prison of self-centeredness that only feeds the mendacity of worthlessness that impedes the path to recovery and wellness.