Shame, guilt, and depression in men and women in recovery from addiction

J Subst Abuse Treat. Nov-Dec 1994;11(6):503-10. doi: 10.1016/0740-5472(94)90001-9.


Men and women in recovery from addiction were compared on levels of depression and self-conscious affect including proneness to shame, guilt, externalization, detachment, and pride. The sample consisted of 130 subjects (88 men and 42 women; mean age 33.04), 90 of whom were active participants in a 12-step recovery program, and 40 of whom were in a residential treatment community. Subjects completed The Beck Depression Inventory and The Test of Self-Conscious Affect. Significant differences between the sexes were found for proneness to shame, detachment, and depression. Women were significantly higher on shame and depression; men were significantly higher on detachment. The subjects were compared to subjects who were not chemically dependent. It was found that these recovering drug-addicted subjects scored significantly higher in proneness to shame and externalization and significantly lower on proneness to guilt. Treatment implications of proneness to shame in the drug-addicted population, and particularly in women, are discussed. The use of confrontational drug treatment strategies may be contraindicated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Shame*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation