Resentments and Addiction
Recovery is a process that requires a lot of emotional work. There are many hidden feelings that can keep a person struggling with addiction, but with help, there is a silver lining. Resentment is one of the most toxic negative emotions a person can hold onto. Lingering feelings and unhealed pain block you from reaching your true potential, but therapy can help you learn to release your resentment and heal.
Blaming others for your addiction does not make it any less of your responsibility. This can be a difficult reality to accept, but there is a benefit as well. By taking accountability for yourself now, you also get to take full credit for your recovery. You are so much more than what you’ve done and what has been done to you. Letting go of resentment frees you from being a victim, past, present and future.
Learning to let go of resentment is crucial to getting over an addiction; you can start by learning more about this emotion and how it has impacted your substance use disorder so far.
What Is Resentment?
Resentment can be defined as a sense of unresolved, deep anger and hurt. It can also be mixed with feelings of sadness, disappointment, regret, and even shame. When someone feels as though they have been wronged, it’s natural to experience pain. For many who struggle with addiction, the safest way they know to express this pain is through anger.
Anger keeps people at a comfortable distance. It stops you from needing to be vulnerable, which is risky, indeed, for anyone who has been hurt by others in the past. But, vulnerability is key to overcoming resentment. Holding onto anger with no where to place it usually results in taking it out on yourself.
Addiction makes you angrier, sadder and ultimately less capable of handling any of your emotions. Resentment fuels your need to escape and self-medicate. Luckily, there is a way out. Anyone can heal and learn how to let go of the past, forgive themselves and build a new life. Therapy and rehab are built to help you find freedom from your past so you can live the best future possible.
What Are the Signs of Resentment?
Resentment is a tricky emotion. You may think that it’s depression, when it’s really pain over mistreatment. You may think you resent someone for who they are, but it could actually be who they failed to be. There are also many valid reasons why someone should feel angry toward someone.
If you’ve been neglected, abused or abandoned, it’s the most natural response in the world to be hurt and angry. But neither of those emotions will do anything for the people who wronged you. Resentment, in all its forms, only causes the person holding onto it to suffer.
Some signs of resentment you may recognize in yourself are:
- Replaying events from the past in your mind.
- Getting angry whenever you think about someone.
- Not being able to forget about what happened.
- Wishing someone to pay for what they’ve done to you.
- Feeling negative or experiencing anxiety around the person who hurt you.
- Feeling ashamed, embarrassed or like you’re just not enough.
- Being haunted by regret and feelings of remorse over your past actions.
- Difficulty trusting other people and always expecting the worst out of them.
- Lying or avoiding sharing things with others to protect yourself.
- Always being on the defense until someone proves themselves to you.
These are several examples of how resentment can exist in your daily life. When addiction factors into the equation, you may find that many of these signs are also triggers to use.
Types of Resentment
In romantic relationships, it’s common for resentment to develop, especially when one or both partners have a substance use disorder. Failure to meet a partner’s needs can result in them holding onto anger. Poor communication and conflict resolution only cause the relationship to become tenser. Rather than working through your difficulties together, you become more likely to keep score, try and get even and make the other person feel guilty for how they’ve made you feel.
Resentment between a couple may also begin one-sided; when someone takes on the role of caregiver for their partner who has an addiction, anger and disappointment are common. This type of resentment may be voiced or unvoiced, but it usually fills the person with the addiction with shame. This shame can fuel your own feelings of inferiority, which may lead to more conflict and also trigger your desire to numb yourself with alcohol or drugs.
In families, resentment from addiction can be shared by many members. Children may be angry at their parents for their mental health issues and lack of emotional availability. Addiction can also lead to incarceration, abuse or neglect that children carry with them for years. Parents may resent their adult child for having an addiction and the helplessness they feel as a result.
When you are on the receiving end of someone else’s resentment, it can cause the emotion to stir in you, too. A nasty cycle ensues that only leads to more hurt and pain. But through therapy, honesty and forgiveness, people can learn to let go and move forward.
Why People Resent Others
Resentment is not merely an act of remembering something someone did or didn’t do; it is unhealed pain from the past, a history of unmet needs that can haunt someone for years. Resentment allows someone to hold onto people long after they’ve mistreated them. They could be parents who failed to be there, a partner who disappointed or betrayed us, friends who let us down and even ourselves. It also permits someone to justify unhealthy behaviors they use to cope, including addiction. When someone feels like there is a valid external reason for their actions, they’re less likely to take accountability for them.
When treating mental health disorders, including depression, trauma and addiction, we look at the underlying causes and emotions that are creating unwanted symptoms. Most of the time, people are not even fully aware at how much pain they’re carrying around or the ways it is fully manifesting in their lives.
For someone with an addiction, drugs or alcohol become one way to cope with resentment. Bottling up your hurt and numbing your emotions only offers temporary relief, but you deserve to feel completely whole. With the right strategies and support, you can heal and thrive.
Resentment and Substance Abuse
A substance use disorder doesn’t often arise from a positive place. Most people start drinking heavily or using drugs because they want to ease discomfort of some kind. The longer they use, the more prevalent those feelings become. You may even find that while you’re intoxicated, certain emotions persist. It feels like there’s no escape, and that’s partially true. The only way to get over the emotions is to work through them, not around them. This is where therapy proves invaluable.
Resentment ultimately creates a victim mentality in someone’s life. Unable to understand why someone wasn’t there for you or acted a certain way, you may eventually look to yourself as the blame. Many people who are resentful also struggle with feelings of worthlessness. “If only I was enough, they wouldn’t have treated me like this.” “If I had been a better person, they would have treated me differently.” These types of thoughts make sense in someone’s mind, but in reality, they are only lies that reinforce the need to use drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Left unchecked, resentment gives rise to hatred. You might find yourself becoming closed off from the world to protect yourself. You may believe that by locking your emotions away, you’re protecting yourself from any future pain. But even this is a form of resentment, one that causes you to continually expect the worst and deprive yourself of the love and support you deserve.
How to Let Go of Resentment
Healing from your past, overcoming resentment and getting over addiction takes time, support, and trust. You must be willing to do the hard work, even though it’s difficult. Sometimes, you may feel like you would have been better off never seeking help, but this is just another lie your addiction tells you.
You have the ability in you right now to start making the necessary changes to turn your life around. It can, and does, get better for thousands of people every year. None of them were born any more capable than you. Regardless of your job, wealth, relationship status or anything else, every human being has the power to heal with the right help.
You may benefit from a program that sees your resentment in the larger context of your addiction. Our dual diagnosis treatment program looks at your mental health from a bigger picture and sees substance use disorder as just one aspect of your well-being. Instead of only focusing on being sober, we work toward healing from the past, learning to let go of harmful emotions and embracing your strengths in recovery.
Start Your Journey Today
We believe that everyone deserves the chance to live a life they love. You can find healing and help through one of our drug and alcohol rehab programs. Our compassionate counselors and medical experts are here to help. Together, we can build a treatment model that works for you. Contact us today to start your recovery story.