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Why Do We Still Feel Guilty After We Are Clean And Sober

Updated on April 25, 2011

The horrible memories of the bottle, the alcohol, the addiction to alcohol and the many broken hearts we caused without even realizing it.

The question is why do we still feel guilty after we are clean and sober? I for one, and I'm sure many other alcoholics that got clean and sober still feel the sense of guilt

Deep down inside the alcoholic and in the alcoholics mind we all know that we are doing wrong not only to our self, but the people we love and who love and care for us so much.

The alcoholic gets to the point that they are blinded to the outside world and never even realize the harm they are doing to others and to themselves.

When the alcoholic finally surrenders to their addiction to alcohol the sense of guilt still lingers in their mind. Why, you may ask? From my experiences, and now clean and sober I now realize what I had done to my wife and my children. While drinking alcohol it never occured that I was hurting anyone.  As much a people told me that I was an alcoholic and I needed to quit drinking alcohol. I, like many other people addicted to alcohol listened to what had to be said and just let go in one ear and out the other.

Then there are those that don't even want to listen to a word from anyone about their addiction to alcohol and some may get pretty violent or disturbed when approached about their addiction. All these things stay in the back of the alcoholics mind, because they know that they have been called down on their addiction to alcohol. They know that they have hurt others, but the addiction has taken over their bodies and they fear that they will never be clean and sober again, so they continue on drinking and hurting others.

Many alcoholics that get clean and sober find out it was too late and the damage was done and not fixable in the spouses mind. Some may catch it before it is too late which is wonderful and then the couple can work out what has to be done with their marriage or relationship and help the spouse stay clean and sober forever.

Feeling the sense of guilt will remain in the alcoholics mind forever if and only if they have any concience at all in them.. Some may never give their addiction and who they hurt a second thought.

When you are addicted to alcohol for years, eventually you will pay the consequences one way or another. Sooner or later whether it be while drinking alcohol or after you surrender to alcohol something will aways be in the back of your mind related to your present or past addiction to alcohol.

Don't let a crisis come into your life. The way I figure, if you want to stay clean and sober forever, just don't drink alcohol, it's that simple.


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    • the clean life profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Bruno 

      6 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      @ melovy-Thank you for reading and commenting. I wish you well on your new hub on guilt. What made me stop drinking was that I have had enough and I could see that my life was heading the wrong way. I loved myself and dearly loved my family too much to keep putting us all through torture everyday.

      the only reason I have guilt after I stopped drinking is because how bad I felt putting my family through so much all those years. Sobriety now and our life couldn't be better.

      All the best to you!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      Mark I came across this because I’m preparing to write a hub on guilt. I second what the others have said about letting go of guilt. From what you’ve written here you felt guilty when you were drinking but you went on drinking. Was it guilt that got you to stop, or was it love for yourself and your family? Beating yourself up or loving yourself?

      In my experience guilt keeps us from feeling gratitude and from truly moving forward. But you don’t need to feel guilty for feeling guilty! Wishing you well on your journey.

    • the clean life profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Bruno 

      7 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      @ Tony, Thanks so much for your comment. I know that having that guilt will be inside me for a long time and not only me but many that have had the same problem. The only thing we can do is put the past behind and make yourselves a better person from this day forward.

    • the clean life profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Bruno 

      7 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      Denise sorry for being so late answering your comment. I know you are right. I may be too hard on myself and not only me, others that have become clean and sober may beat themselves up too. It is really hard to except the truth when you know darn well you have hurt others and there is no fixing the past. We (alcoholics) need to work on our new sober life and make good and the best of our lives.

      Like you said that was another person back then and now I (we) are new in every way. at least I am :)

    • Tony L Smith profile image

      Tony L Smith 

      7 years ago from Macon

      Your correct Mark, its almost impossible to do the wrong things and not feel guilty about them.

      dirty concience verses clean concience. I reakon the first truth to accept is that your Father wants you to have a clean concience. This will take some work on your part. In your mind you deserve to remain guilty, but not in your Fathers mind. He has chosen to remove your accuser from before His face.

      Do all you can do. Ask forgiveness from those you wronged, restore relationships you harmed etc..

      Then realise you deserve to be innocent maybe more than you deserve to be guilty, because it is the will of your Father. Don't fight against the creator, He has given you the right of innocence.

      eventually it will boil down to your wrong desire to stay guily verses His desire for you to feel clean and free of shame. I hope He wins.

      to your victory

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Mark-you touch on a very sensitive topic and one that is a natural byproduct from the move out of the darkness and into the light. It is the reality of the pain we cause others that sickens us with guilt. But, if we practice the act of forgiveness for ourselves and allow the compassion to help heal us we will be able to let go of guilt.

      Guilt is an obstacle to joy. Joy comes when we realize the fullness of our lives through the Grace of God. Feelings of guilt abort that.

      One way we can understand and forgive is to acknowledge that we were sick when we engaged in self destructive behavior, of any kind. The 'sick' person that we were back then had no thoughts for anyone else or anything but its own needs. That person has metamorphised into a different person-one who does care, love and consider ourselves differently and others as well.

      It is from a place of sobriety, recovery and health that we are able to stand tall and say-" I do not need to feel guilty for who I was back then. I am no longer that person."

      God bless and remind yourself of this when that old pattern of guilt arises. It is an obstacle that will sabotage feelings of connection with the spiritual YOU.


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