How Do I Deal with Regret in Sobriety?

How Do I Deal with Regret in Sobriety?

If you’ve been sober for any amount of time (even five minutes), you’ve experienced the cold splash of shame that all of us endure as an avoidable part of our recovery.


How many mornings have we all woken up, unsure of what happened the night before?

 As we try to piece together the events of another drunk or high bender, the anxiety and the regret grow bigger than our ability to cope.


What did I say?

Who did I call?

Who messages did I send?

Who saw me?

How much money did I spend?

What did I miss?


Shame, guilt, and regret weigh down on us with each unanswered or hazy response.

 “Regret is one reason many people keep using,” says Openly Sober founder Butler Raines. “We’ve got to learn how to channel that regret by reframing our shame and using it to move us forward instead of letting it bury us again.”

 How? Here are four ways to cope with regret in sobriety.


1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Instead of avoiding your feelings of shame and guilt, confront them. Journal about them. Talk to someone you trust. Verbalizing your emotions, even in writing, is a critical step towards processing them.

2. Be honest. Avoid placing blame on others or owning blame that doesn’t belong to you. Be honest about the weight you carry in your regret without indulging in extreme ways of thinking. Dealing in the facts helps too.

3. Separate who you are from what you’ve done. If you’re feeling shame and regret, that’s because you have a conscience. You are an imperfect human being working toward self-improvement. You are not the equivalent of your darkest, most embarrassing moments.

4. Learn a lesson. If you don’t change, nothing will change. Avoiding future regret is not complicated. The most important thing shame can do is demonstrate what behaviors are unacceptable to us to teach us what not to repeat.


It’s easy to think all our problems stem from our addictions—and many of them do. But regret is part of the human experience, whether or not you’re an addict. We all have to learn to cope. We all have to learn how to move forward.


You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) manage your regret on our own. Reach out. Make a connection. Open up. And carry on.