Resentment: A Danger to Recovery

Posted on :  September 4th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Harboring resentment is a danger to the addiction recovery process. It is even mentioned in “the big book,” Alcoholics Anonymous. “Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” (64). Not only does it impact alcoholics; it poses a danger for anyone undergoing a substance abuse treatment program.

Why is it a danger?

Resentment is a dangerous emotion to experience during recovery because it can thwart your efforts and possibly lead to relapse. Here are some of the damaging ways resentment can hold a person back from a successful recovery:

It serves as a relapse trigger. Perhaps the most harmful aspect of resentment is its potential to cause a relapse during recovery. This negative emotion is unpleasant, to say the least, and it can be an excuse to go back to drugs or alcohol. Using substances helps to suppress those ugly and painful feelings. At that point, it’s easy to slip back into old patterns of addiction.

It causes a loss of focus. Resentment is very sneaky because it draws attention away from personal issues and behaviours. You become so focused on wrongs committed by the transgressor that you lose sight of personal responsibility. It also leads to the development of a victim mentality. The reality is only you can fix yourself. Blaming someone else won’t advance your recovery efforts.

It keeps you stuck in the past. This emotion keeps you focused on the past. Whether the hurts and wrongs were intentional or not, they remain in the past and can’t be undone. Resentment prevents you from healing and moving forward in recovery. It’s almost like driving while looking in the rearview mirror and expecting to arrive easily at your destination.

It prevents relationship building. If you hold much resentment, it becomes difficult to establish and maintain connections with people. One of the most rewarding aspects of recovery is fostering new relationships and reestablishing old ones. Resentment prevents this from happening and keeps you emotionally isolated.

It delays progress. Not only does resentment delay progress in recovery, it hinders progress in life. Harboring resentment is similar to lugging a heavy weight around all the time. It slows you down and holds you back.

So what is resentment exactly?

Resentment is a negative emotion that occurs when someone feels wronged or harmed in some way. It is often a lethal mixture of anger, contempt, bitterness and hatred.

Feelings of resentment may occur in response to actual events and situations, or they may simply be imagined. Many people often feel ill will for perceived slights that others would consider totally irrational.

Regardless of the cause, letting these feelings of anger and hatred fester does more damage to a person feeling the resentment than to the transgressor. Actress Carrie Fisher said it best in this quote, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” For someone in recovery, that emotional poison can lead right back to drinking or drug use.

How to deal with resentment

Just like dealing with addiction, dealing with resentment takes time and patience. It is a process. Individuals struggling with this emotion also need to remember that resentment (and other negative emotions) shouldn’t be eliminated, but acknowledged and managed.

Some tips for dealing with resentment include:

Counselling. Most people in recovery are going through counselling or a 12-step program already. If not, it’s wise to seek professional help. It’s also crucial to bring up resentment issues as they arise.

Focusing on positive emotions. Feelings of resentment will lessen when focus is given to building and maintaining positive emotions.

Journaling. Writing out feelings can be helpful in order to understand them and come to terms with resentment issues.

Meditation. Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, helps individuals become more objectively aware of thoughts and feelings, making it easier to deal with resentment.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

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  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.