Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on June 17, 2021.
Perhaps you've received negative feedback or experienced an unsettling situation. While guilt will lead to feelings of remorse, shame will take those feelings much further, causing low self-esteem and hopelessness. Because some individuals experience events and emotions more deeply than others, they are more likely to be affected by shame, leading to a shame spiral that can be difficult to escape from. Those who are more susceptible include sensitive people and individuals with anxiety or depression.
After a triggering situation, the shame cycle will cause these types of individuals to replay the event repeatedly and begin thinking about other disappointing or humiliating events they've experienced in the past.
While this cycle can be brought on by any kind of event, it's common to experience shame spiraling after drinking. If a person with alcoholism drinks, for example, they will most likely begin to feel ashamed over their lack of self-control. They may have trouble being present in the moment, ruminating instead on the event and replaying it in their mind.
Once this begins, the person will internalize their post-drinking shame and begin seeing themselves as a failure. They'll likely think about times when they've experienced other shameful situations, causing them to isolate and even experience a depressive episode.
At this point, the person might turn to drinking again to numb these feelings, creating a new shame cycle.
There are several ways you can deal with the shame cycle. Here are five tips on how to reverse it:
Whether you've been experiencing the shame cycle from drinking or using drugs, the Diamond House Detox provides individualized care that ranges from a 7- to 10-day detox to our 30-day intensive inpatient recovery treatment based on your specific needs. By focusing on substance use and mental illness, we help our clients start their journey to recovery.