Alta Mira, an addiction treatment centre based in California, has launched #TalkShame, a campaign to raise awareness about the role shame plays in addiction and recovery.
Shame can dictate how you feel about yourself – it's all-consuming, and often feels like it's impossible to shake.
"Shame influences addiction before, during, and after," says Dr Nancy Bailey, clinical director at Alta Mira. "It is often the gasoline that fuels the fire."
By talking more openly about feelings of shame, people can come to terms with anguish and self-disgust and start to heal, which is essential in the first stages of recovery.
Alta Mira asked recovered addicts to describe their shame, and how it affected their recovery process. Their words were interpreted by visual artists.
“Feeling very, very small and dirty and despicable. Wanting to hide, feeling ugly everywhere.”
“I feel it in my gut the most. And my thoughts become obsessive and circular... Difficult to escape.”
“Feel it in the heart. Want to hide, want to withdraw, want to put up a 'wall'. Defensive sometimes. Feel very alone.”
“Shame lived in my heart and gut."
But Alta Mira argues that it is possible to treat pathological shame, and that dealing with it properly can be the only way to avoid relapse.
"So there is only one-way to escape this self-destructive cycle: by fighting shame with its opposite."
As Alta Mira's website says: "Instead of closing off, open up. Instead of running from others, embrace them. Instead of shrinking away in silence, stand up and speak." This is the crux of the #TalkShame campaign.
Visit #TalkShame for resources and inspiration for individuals seeking freedom from toxic shame.