Drug abuse has become a common problem among children and adolescents. Most of the parents, who discover that their children are on drugs, are more interested in dragging them for treatment. A new study throws light on the very little focus, which is given to identify the victim's feelings of either shame or guilt, both of which can have significant implications on the treatment outcomes.
Shame is the tendency to feel bad about yourself following a specific event. It appears that individuals who are prone to shame when dealing with a variety of life problems may also have a tendency to turn toward alcohol and other drugs to cope with this feeling.
Guilt, or the tendency to feel bad about a specific behavior or action, was largely unrelated to substance-use problems. This is one of the first studies to scientifically validate the importance of shame versus guilt and their relation to alcohol and drugs.
It becomes important therefore to distinguish between these two feelings while deciding the line of treatment. According to Dearing, a lead investigator, "Whether or not shame is a cause of problematic substance use, other problems that go hand-in-hand with shame such as anger or interpersonal difficulties are sufficient justification for implementing shame-reduction interventions into treatment. Successfully reducing shame is likely to result in better treatment outcomes."
Dearing wants to understand how people who seek alcohol- and substance-use treatment are different from other people who have similar problems, but do not seek help. In addition, she hopes to learn whether a proneness to shame is a risk factor for drug and alcohol problems and, secondly, whether the tendency to experience guilt is a protective factor against the same problems.
If valuable information regarding this is obtained then perhaps specifically, counselors and other medical providers might effectively work with clients toward decreasing shame-proneness and enhancing guilt-proneness.