There are some who are in recovery who wear their recovery badge on their sleeve with pride. Others, are embarrassed to be in recovery for various reasons. Some might feel ashamed to be in recovery because of the stigma associated with addiction, others might feel shame when associating with friends or family who still use. Finding the confidence to be proud of one’s recovery journey takes work, time, support, failure, and successes.


Shame can be one of the greatest barriers to success. When we experience shame, it makes us feel isolated, dark, and hinders progress. It is not uncommon for those who are just starting on the recovery journey to receive backlash from friends and families who use. Some friends and family members may say, “do you think you are too good to drink/ smoke/ use with us?” This social confrontation and peer pressure to use can be a huge source of shame.

Others might feel shame in situations that might seem harmless. For example, at a company party where alcohol is served, a friendly co-worker might offer a drink and you feel ashamed to turn down the drink and disclose that you are in recovery. It might also feel uncomfortable to tell your doctor or dentist of your substance abuse history if they give you pain medication that could jeopardize your recovery. These are all common situations where shame might creep in and try to grow.

Dispelling Shame with Pride

Learning how to combat feelings of shame and instead letting seeds of pride grow is beneficial for one’s recovery. Being proud of your recovery journey does not mean that the entire world needs to know your history, dark secrets, and every update in your recovery process. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to sharing their recovery journey. Thus, there are many ways to be tactful, yet proud of your progress.

The term, “power in numbers” applies very well to finding confidence in one’s recovery. Associating with others who are proud of their progress, proud of your progress, support your values and goals, and have beliefs that are aligned with yours will help foster a greater sense of pride and confidence.

This might mean that you need to evaluate where and who you spend your time with.

Reducing time with toxic, shame spitting people and increasing time with supportive ones could be helpful. Sometimes we cannot completely remove all toxic people, especially if they are family. Taking a supportive person with you during those visits or having a momento that you can hold onto and reminds you of your greater purpose and motivation for recovery could give you an extra boost of strength during those confrontational times.

In other situations such as a company party where alcohol is served, you can decline to drink without telling your whole story. Remember, there is a whole world out there with millions of people who do not drink or use drugs due to health, religion, allergies, and personal choice. To reduce feelings of anxiety and feeling caught off guard, you could role play different ways to decline a substance or how to disclose in a discrete way your substance abuse history.

Working with a professional substance abuse counselor could be helpful in overcoming barriers, gaining support, and growing your pride and confidence in your recovery. If you’re in the Southern California region, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a trained medical professional who can provide guidance.