Publication Details

McGaffin, B. J., Lyons, G. C. B. & Deane, F. P. (2013). Self-forgiveness, shame, and guilt in recovery from drug and alcohol problems. Substance Abuse, 34 (4), 396-404.


Background: People with drug and/or alcohol problems often experience feelings of shame and guilt, which have been associated with poorer recovery. Self-forgiveness has the potential to reduce these negative experiences. Methods: The current study tested theorized mediators (acceptance, conciliatory behavior, empathy) of the relationships between shame and guilt with self-forgiveness. A cross-sectional sample of 133 individuals (74.4% male) receiving residential treatment for substance abuse completed self-report measures of shame, guilt, self-forgiveness, and the mediators. Results: Consistent with previous research, guilt had a positive association with self-forgiveness, whereas shame was negatively associated with self-forgiveness. Acceptance mediated the guilt and self-forgiveness relationship and had an indirect effect on the shame and self-forgiveness relationship. Conclusions: These findings emphasize the importance of targeting acceptance when trying to reduce the effects of shame and guilt on self-forgiveness.



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