Shame is the sense we have of being 'less than' what we should be. A shameless person thinks his actions are perfectly normal, whereas someone who is ashamed has been 'exposed' or 'caught' being 'inferior.'
The concept of sin in the Orthodox Church, and its implied concept within AA 'harms,' is that of an act which does not match who we are. God does not create random laws that we accidentally break, nor does He establish bounds that we cannot help but break. Sin is preventable and unnatural, though we find ourselves in a peculiar condition of not acting according to our nature. We are 'tempted' to go against what is best for us.
And yet, these unnatural acts of sin, which cause us shame and humiliation, are often based on an honorable foundation. We think we are doing right, or seeking what is good. Most of the time, we are hungry and in need of something when we sin, which is the power of temptation. It arouses within us a yearning, an appetite for something 'good.'
Addiction is the stage when this appetite can no longer be controlled, but rather the will becomes broken and the appetite is unleashed. Nothing can stop it once it finds an opportunity to use the focus of its hunger: the drink, the drug, the act.
But, what are we really hungry for? What is the cause of this yearning?
Deep down, our humiliation's basis is our desire for God. We seek His goodness and His consolation. We desire His love and blessings, His healing and forgiveness. The temptation is when we find an 'alternative,' something easier than going after God.
Man's humiliation is when he turns in his dignity as being make in the Image and Likeness of God for something inferior to him rather than superior. If man turned to God, he would attain to something magnificent and honorable. But, when he goes for something less, like food or drink or drug, man loses his dignity.
The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, which begins again tonight, speaks of this loss of dignity when man sins in his yearning for God which ends up in sin. But, even our sins are not a complete waste: when we examine them, we see how much we really want God more than anything else. 'Hunger and thirst for righteousness' as in the Beatitudes, though our actions do not appear to match this desire.
The remembrance of sins, such as the 'drunkalogue' or the Canon of St. Andrew, is not a morbid 'self-flagellation' to stir up guilt, but a powerful tool in reminding us that even in the most non- or anti-spiritual moments, we are spiritual beings seeking union with God.
Taking spirituality away from people only makes them more self-indulgent and takes them further away from the dignity of what humanity is supposed to be. People are left with propping up the thin veils of materialism, which eventually results in addictions of all varieties. People want God, and will do anything to find Him... or even a poor facsimile. This is the heart of sin.