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What causes resentment during addiction recovery?

Extreme emotional vulnerability plays an active role during addiction recovery. During early stages of drug rehabilitation or alcoholism treatment, your emotions may become particularly harder to manage.

Resentment being one of the most common emotions during this time and also the most counter-productive. Resentment often stems from guilt or regret.

Your feelings of guilt or regret can strongly influence the way you perceive your interactions. You may feel guilty for things you did during your addiction which can make you feel inadequate.

You might find yourself holding onto negative emotions or memories or even perceiving someone’s words or actions to be judgemental when in reality they are not.

It is important to understand that built up resentment can hinder your recovery and can increase the risk of relapsing as a means to escape from your feelings.

Building up resentment - Drug and alcohol rehabilitation South Africa

What causes resentment in addiction recovery?


  • - Feeling that you have been treated unfairly and you never had the chance to speak about it.
  • - Holding on to negative feelings such as hurt, regret or anger.
  • - Feeling like you are not worthy of receiving love because you have made bad decisions in the past.
  • - Allowing people to make you feel inadequate even if that was not their intention.
  • - Feeling like you have been neglected or left alone to deal with your addiction.
  • - Having feelings of shame.
  • - Believing that nobody understands what you have been through.


Resentment can be as a result of addiction, consequently manifesting during the recovery process. Additionally, it can be the fundamental reason for the addiction.

In order to fully recover, you must overcome your resentment. May it be resentment towards yourself or towards others.

To fully let go of resentment, you need to be honest and conscious about your feelings. This will help you identify negative emotions as they arise.

Once you are able to identify emotions that are hindering your personal growth and recovery process, you can find ways to manage them before they take control.

The best way to begin this process is by taking a close and honest look at yourself and the people and circumstances that instigated your resentment.

Ways to let go of resentment

• Forgive

Forgiving yourself is the biggest step towards letting go of your resentment. Allow yourself to accept that you are a human being who has made mistakes.

You now have the chance to overcome your past and to make healthier choices. In the same breath, forgiving others is equally important. There is no one in the world who is perfect.

• Learn to speak about your emotions

No matter how insignificant the situation may seem, if you feel hurt or betrayed by someone it is important to speak about it.

There is no need to do this in an argumentative way. You can simply explain the way you feel. Talking about your hurt will help the forgiveness process.

• Do not complain to others

If someone has hurt you or made you angry, there is no reason for you to tell others about it.

Complaining to someone else about a problem is not going to resolve anything and will only create more hurt or anger.

Find the strength to talk openly to the person who has hurt you.

• Learn to say no

Doing something for someone against your will, no matter how small, can easily lead to resentment towards that person.

There is no harm in saying no to something that makes you uncomfortable. Do not allow feelings of guilt or responsibility to make you feel like you have to do something.

• Stop revisiting the situation

Repeatedly revisiting the situation that hurt you will foster resentment. The more you revisit it the more you will become upset.

Avoid this by focusing on a solution rather than the problem. Learn from the situation so that you can avoid it from happening in the future.

It may also help to focus on your strengths rather than allowing your hurt to make you feel like you are inadequate.

• Look for good qualities

It may be difficult at the time because you are upset but focusing on the positive qualities of the person that has upset you will divert your attention.

However, this is not what some would call “sweeping it under the rug” but rather taking a negative situation and making it positive. It may be helpful to write these qualities down.

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

Resentment is not your ally. It will not protect you. It’s a negative emotion that will only foster more negativity. In order to truly recover we must learn to combat the negative with the positive.

Step Away is a rehabilitation center that aims to treat addiction recovery holistically. Our programmes follow steps that aim to help you let go of your resentment and anything that is holding you back from a sustainable recovery.

For more information about our rehab centre, please contact us.

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