20+ Years Experience

Specialist Alcohol Help

Understanding and Overcoming the Shame of Alcoholism

Enquire Today For A Free No Obligation Quote

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterised by compulsive and uncontrolled drinking, despite its negative consequences on an individual’s physical, mental, and social well-being. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 15 million adults in the United States are affected by alcohol use disorder.

The causes of alcoholism can vary from person to person, but there are some common factors that contribute to its development. These include:

  1. Genetics: Individuals with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop the disorder.
  2. Environmental Factors: Factors such as stress, trauma, peer pressure, and availability of alcohol can also contribute to the development of alcoholism.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is crucial in seeking help and overcoming the disorder. Some common signs and symptoms may include:

  1. Physical Symptoms: These may include poor coordination, slurred speech, blackouts, and frequent hangovers.
  2. Behavioural Symptoms: These may include hiding or denying drinking habits, neglecting responsibilities, and experiencing mood swings.

One of the biggest challenges for individuals with alcoholism is the shame associated with the disorder. This shame often stems from societal stigma and misconceptions about alcoholism, making it difficult for individuals to seek help and receive support.

Shame can significantly affect those with alcoholism, leading to feelings of guilt, low self-worth, and isolation. It can also prevent individuals from seeking treatment and maintaining sobriety.

However, there are ways to overcome the shame associated with alcoholism, including:

  1. Seeking Professional Help: A therapist or counsellor can help individuals work through feelings of shame and develop coping strategies.
  2. Joining a Support Group: Connecting with others who have similar experiences can help individuals feel less alone and more understood.
  3. Practising Self-Compassion: Learning to be kind to oneself and forgiving of mistakes is essential in overcoming shame.
  4. Educating Yourself and Others: Educating oneself and others about alcoholism can help reduce stigma and increase understanding.

Treatment for alcoholism may include a combination of detoxification, rehabilitation programs, counselling, and medication. It is essential to seek professional help and follow a personalised treatment plan for long-term recovery.

Loved ones can also play a crucial role in supporting someone with alcoholism. Some ways they can support include:

  1. Educating Themselves: Understanding alcoholism and its effects can help loved ones provide appropriate support.
  2. Offering Unconditional Support: Being non-judgemental and supportive can help individuals feel more comfortable seeking help.
  3. Encouraging Treatment: Loved ones can encourage and support individuals in seeking treatment for alcoholism.
  4. Practising Self-Care: It is crucial for loved ones to take care of themselves physically and emotionally while supporting someone with alcoholism.

With the right support and treatment, individuals can overcome the shame of alcoholism and lead a healthy, sober life.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterised by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. It’s a serious problem that can lead to severe health complications and social issues. Individuals with alcoholism often continue to drink despite the negative consequences it brings to their lives and the lives of those around them.

Pro-tip: If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, seek professional help and support from loved ones.

What Causes Alcoholism?

The root of alcoholism can stem from a variety of factors, both genetic and environmental. In this section, we will delve into the underlying causes of alcoholism and how they can contribute to a person’s struggle with this addiction. From genetics to environmental influences, we will examine the various factors that can increase one’s susceptibility to developing alcoholism. By understanding these causes, we can begin to break down the shame and stigma surrounding alcoholism and work towards overcoming it.


Alcoholism can be influenced by genetics, with research indicating that genes play a role in predisposing individuals to alcoholism. Those with a family history of alcoholism are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Genetic variations can impact how alcohol is metabolised in the body, affecting one’s susceptibility to alcoholism. Understanding the genetic component can help tailor treatment and preventive measures.

Pro-tip: Genetic testing can provide valuable insights into an individual’s predisposition to alcoholism.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a crucial role in the development of alcoholism. These factors include family, friends, socioeconomic status, and cultural norms.

Family history of alcoholism, peer influence, and exposure to stress or trauma can significantly contribute to the risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism?

The signs and symptoms of alcoholism can often be subtle and easily overlooked. In this section, we will delve into the physical and behavioural symptoms that may indicate a problem with alcohol consumption. By understanding these signs and symptoms, we can better recognize the presence of alcoholism and take steps towards overcoming the shame associated with it. From physical changes to changes in behaviour, we will explore the various ways in which alcoholism can manifest in an individual.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of alcoholism may include:

Additionally, individuals with alcohol use disorder may experience symptoms such as:

Behavioural Symptoms

Excessive drinking

Loss of control over drinking

Continued drinking despite negative consequences

Secrecy or dishonesty about drinking habits

Personality changes, such as irritability or volatility

During the Prohibition era in the United States, the illegal production and distribution of alcohol led to widespread criminal activity. Bootlegging and speakeasies became common, and the demand for alcohol surged despite the ban.

What Is the Shame Associated with Alcoholism?

The shame associated with alcoholism stems from societal stigma, self-perception, and the fear of judgement. It often arises from feelings of guilt, regret, and a sense of failure, hindering individuals from seeking help. To overcome this shame, it’s essential to recognise alcoholism as a disease rather than a moral failing. Seeking support from non-judgmental individuals, joining support groups, and educating oneself about alcoholism can aid in overcoming the associated shame.

How Does Shame Affect Those with Alcoholism?

Self-esteem: Shame can lead to low self-esteem, making it harder for individuals to seek help.

Social withdrawal: Those with alcoholism may isolate themselves due to feelings of shame and unworthiness.

Barriers to recovery: Shame often acts as a barrier to seeking treatment, leading to prolonged alcohol misuse.

Fact: Shame and stigma can prevent up to 80% of individuals with alcohol use disorder from seeking help.

How Can One Overcome the Shame of Alcoholism?

The shame and stigma surrounding alcoholism can be a major barrier to seeking help and recovery. However, there are steps that individuals struggling with alcoholism can take to overcome this shame and begin their journey towards healing. In this section, we will discuss the various ways one can overcome the shame of alcoholism. From seeking professional help to practicing self-compassion, we will explore the different strategies that can help individuals break free from the shame and start their path to recovery.

Seek Professional Help

Recognise the need for assistance.

Research and find qualified professionals.

Schedule an appointment for assessment and guidance.

Openly communicate concerns and seek support.

Join a Support Group

Find local support groups through community centres or online platforms. Attend group sessions regularly to share experiences and gain insights from others. Participate actively in discussions and activities to build a strong support network. Connect with like-minded individuals to foster a sense of belonging and understanding. Consider reaching out to a support group to connect with individuals who understand your journey and can provide valuable encouragement and guidance.

Practice Self-Compassion

Recognise the need for self-compassion in the journey to overcome alcoholism. Practise mindfulness and self-awareness to acknowledge and accept personal struggles without judgement. Be kind and forgiving to oneself, understanding that recovery is a process with ups and downs. Engage in activities that bring joy and comfort, promoting a positive self-image and emotional well-being.

Educate Yourself and Others

Learn about alcoholism: Understand the causes, symptoms, and effects of alcoholism to comprehend its impact.

Spread awareness: Share knowledge about alcoholism with others to reduce stigma and encourage support.

Advocate for resources: Promote access to treatment options and support groups within communities.

What Are the Treatment Options for Alcoholism?

When it comes to treating alcoholism, there are various options available, each with their own unique benefits and approaches. In this section, we will dive into the different treatment options for alcoholism, including detoxification, rehabilitation programmes, counselling and therapy, and medications. By understanding the various methods of treatment, we can better understand how to overcome the shame and stigma associated with alcoholism and find the best path towards recovery.


Medical assessment: A healthcare professional assesses the physical and mental health of the individual, identifying any potential withdrawal symptoms or co-occurring conditions.

Stabilisation: Using medication and psychotherapy, the individual’s physical and psychological health is stabilised to prepare for the detox process.

Detox process: The individual undergoes a supervised detoxification process, during which the body eliminates the alcohol and manages withdrawal symptoms.

Post-detox care: After detox, the individual receives ongoing support, such as counselling, therapy, and medication, to address underlying issues and prevent relapse.

Rehabilitation Programmes

Assessment: The first step involves a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s physical health, mental state, and severity of alcohol dependence.

Medical Detoxification: Involves supervised withdrawal from alcohol, managing withdrawal symptoms, and addressing any medical complications.

Therapeutic Interventions: Utilises individual and group therapy, counselling, and cognitive-behavioural approaches to address the psychological aspects of alcoholism.

Education and Skill Building: Equips individuals with coping strategies, stress management, and relapse prevention skills.

Counselling and Therapy

Counselling and therapy are vital components of alcoholism treatment, offering emotional support and coping strategies. Counselling sessions help individuals address underlying issues and triggers, while therapy equips them with valuable tools to manage stress and prevent relapse.


Medications can help in the treatment of alcoholism. Disulfiram deters drinking by causing severe discomfort. Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings, while Acamprosate stabilises brain chemistry. However, medication should be used alongside counselling and therapy for a comprehensive approach.

How Can Loved Ones Support Someone with Alcoholism?

For those struggling with alcoholism, the support of loved ones can make a significant difference in their journey towards recovery. However, it can be challenging for loved ones to know how to best support someone with alcoholism without enabling or causing further harm. In this section, we will discuss four key ways that loved ones can provide meaningful support, including educating themselves on alcoholism, offering unconditional support, encouraging treatment, and practicing self-care.

Educate Themselves

Loved ones can educate themselves by researching alcoholism, its effects, and available support. Understanding the condition and treatment options enables them to provide informed and compassionate assistance. Resources like books, reputable websites, and attending educational workshops can enhance their knowledge and equip them to offer meaningful support to their loved ones struggling with alcoholism.

Offer Unconditional Support

Offering unconditional support to someone dealing with alcoholism is crucial for their recovery. Here are steps you can take to provide unwavering support:

  1. Educate yourself about alcoholism and its effects on individuals and families.
  2. Listen without judgment and offer a safe space to express their struggles.
  3. Encourage them to seek professional help and participate in treatment programs.
  4. Assure them that they are not alone and that you will stand by them throughout their journey to sobriety.

John’s family rallied around him, providing unwavering support as he confronted his alcoholism. Their understanding and encouragement played a pivotal role in his successful recovery.

Encourage Treatment

Express Concern: Communicate your worries and encourage seeking professional help.

Offer Support: Provide emotional assistance and accompany them to treatment facilities.

Highlight Benefits: Emphasize the positive impact of treatment on their life and relationships.

Stay Involved: Engage in their recovery process and attend therapy or support sessions together.

Practise Self-Care

Set Boundaries: Establish limits to protect your well-being and prioritize self-care.

Engage in Relaxation Techniques: Practice mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing to alleviate stress.

Prioritize Physical Health: Exercise, get adequate sleep, and consume nutritious meals.

Embrace Leisure Activities: Dedicate time to hobbies and activities that bring joy and relaxation.

Seek Support: Surround yourself with understanding and uplifting individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the connection between toxic shame and substance misuse?

Toxic shame can arise from a variety of experiences, including trauma, mental illness, and unhealthy relationships. This emotion can lead individuals to believe that they are fundamentally flawed and unworthy of love or help, which can then fuel addictive behaviours and hinder efforts towards recovery.

What role does low self-esteem play in the shame of alcohol use behaviours?

Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness can contribute to toxic shame and make it difficult for individuals to seek help for their alcohol misuse. This negative self-perception can also lead to uninhibited actions and unhealthy coping mechanisms, creating a cycle of shame and addiction.

How can therapy help in overcoming the shame of alcoholism?

Therapy in a private setting can provide a safe space for individuals to address their shame and work towards a more positive self-image. It can also help individuals cope with difficult feelings and develop healthier ways of managing negative perceptions and past actions.

What are some common experiences that can lead to toxic shame and alcohol misuse?

Childhood abuse, physical or emotional, can leave deep scars and contribute to the development of toxic shame. Additionally, personality traits such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, and people-pleasing tendencies can also make individuals more vulnerable to this emotion and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

How can peer support aid in overcoming shame and staying sober?

Peer support, through group therapy or support groups, can provide a unifying support system for individuals struggling with shame and addiction. It offers a safe space to share experiences, receive encouragement, and feel understood, which can be essential in breaking the cycle of shame and staying sober.

Why is it important to seek help for alcohol misuse, even if it feels shameful?

Shame sticks when it is kept hidden and feeds on secrecy. Seeking help for alcohol misuse is a brave step towards breaking free from the shame cycle and taking control of one’s life. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through a toll-free number, with privacy guaranteed and no commitment required. Remember, you are not alone and there is hope for recovery from alcoholism.

Get In Touch With Our Team

We Aim To Reply To All Enquiries With-in 24-Hours