Coping With Relapse Guilt.

Tim Crossland-Page
5 min readApr 5, 2022

Can You Use Guilt For Recovery from Addiction?

Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

I’ve relapsed many times.

Sometimes it was because I wasn’t admitting to myself I had a problem. Other times it was because I’d coped with the itch for long periods of time and thought it would feel easier to just give in.

Another reason I’d relapse is because in that moment I just completely forgot about my long-term goals. I lost focus on my financial goals, or forgot my aims health-wise. Maybe I also forgot about the other big ‘Why.’ Which is to work on building reliable relationships, and to live according to certain values.

Every time I relapse I feel crippled with guilt. It paralyses me. I go through it quietly. I try to use the guilt to push off to stronger effort. This has got easier over time. It used to push me back into escapism, and I’d be off on a binge with whatever addictive behaviour I’d mired myself in, and I’d have to hit some sort of bottom to bounce myself back into some semblance of control.

Guilt is a powerful emotion. It seizes and racks you. Often it may drive you to further relapse to escape it. It feels that dreadful. Guilt is heavy. When they describe the emotion as haunting it doesn’t cover it. It is more like a relentless pursuit. A clawing sensation felt in the nerves.