Not everyone who enters drug and alcohol rehab believes they have a problem. Some people enter treatment to detox for a job or pass a drug test. Others do it to appease family members. Still others want to clean up and then use substances in moderation. These people rarely achieve a lasting sobriety.
Nevertheless, individuals who enter treatment without a desire to change can still benefit from the experience. Just getting detoxed and spending time in a sober and supportive environment can be enough to make a person decide that they’d rather live in recovery than live in denial.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Acceptance Such a Big Deal?
- What Happens Without Acceptance?
- How to Practice Acceptance
- The Role of Acceptance in Recovery
- Sobriety Starts With Acceptance
- You Only Have to Change Everything
- Managing Guilt and Shame
- Acceptance Is the Answer
- Beliefs That Limit Healing in Recovery
- Receiving the Gifts of Change
- How Self-acceptance Affects Self-esteem
Why Is Acceptance Such a Big Deal?
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and our lives had become unmanageable.” This is the first of AA’s 12 Steps. While admitting to a substance use problem is a good start, it’s not the same as accepting it. Practicing acceptance in all of your affairs has been called the cornerstone of a strong recovery.
What Happens Without Acceptance?
Without acceptance, your recovery and your well-being are at risk. You may feel tossed about emotionally by everything that’s not to your liking. You want it your way or not at all. When life isn’t going as you wish, you find it unacceptable, and you fight against it.
You’ve planned out your life, but it’s not going as planned. Many people respond with anger and frustration, but at its root, it’s fear. You believe that if you can’t control your life, your life will fall apart.
Without acceptance, life in recovery can leave you feeling angry and scared. The whole point of getting high was to blot out those feelings. Now you have to find new ways to soothe yourself, and the practice of acceptance cannot be overrated. It’s one of the most powerful recovery tools available.
How to Practice Acceptance
Life without substances can be as scary as riding wild horses. But it’s also exhilarating because when you’re not in charge of the trip, you can find yourself in places you’ve never been.
If you can accept challenging situations as opportunities that will benefit you instead of adversities working against you, you will learn to trust and enjoy the ride. It can take you to new and exciting places you could never have reached alone.
You might be swimming in strange and uncomfortable emotions you’ve never felt before, feeling like your life is falling apart or encountering changes around every corner, Remember that it’s all an adventure, and it will never be boring. Other recovering people are close at hand and sharing your journey, so you’ll never walk alone.
If you are terrified of losing control and unwilling to let other people help you, you will never experience the kind of lasting and complete serenity you ultimately long for.
Accepting that you have an addiction you’re powerless over and cannot control no matter what you do is a sobering proposition. Nevertheless, learning to accept life as it is without letting it throw you off course is essential for long-term recovery.
Whenever you feel disturbed, the problem lies with you. The solution is not to change the condition that’s upsetting you. The solution is to change the way you’re thinking about it. As long as you continue to see the situation as unacceptable, the longer it will bother you.
If you drive through an unsafe intersection and the dangerous condition never gets fixed, it could put you in a state of perpetual fury all day. To you, the situation is unacceptable. It must be fixed at once because your personal safety matters.
On the other hand, you could simply accept that the unsafe intersection is what it is. It’s not safe, and you can’t fix it. Once you accept that fact, you can explore other options like taking an alternate route or driving with extreme caution.
The Role of Acceptance in Recovery
One of the most challenging aspects of recovery is to fully accept responsibility for the consequences that resulted from your addiction. To maintain sobriety, an individual must fully accept themselves, their actions and their addiction regardless of how painful it is to admit.
Nevertheless, acceptance is the beginning of healing. If you can’t accept that you have a problem, you have zero chance of solving it.
Sobriety Starts With Acceptance
The Serenity Prayer tells us to accept what we cannot change and have the courage to change what we can. When we practice acceptance, we can use our time and energy to make positive changes in our lives instead of wasting our energy on being upset over things we cannot change.
In recovery, acceptance is closely related to surrender and powerlessness. In the first Step, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” We admitted that we can’t control our drinking and that we have no power to stop it.
You Only Have to Change Everything
Getting sober is easy. Staying sober is not. However, most people can enjoy long-term sobriety if they’re willing to work the AA program and follow suggestions to the best of their ability.
Staying sober requires radical acceptance as a way of life. The whole purpose of acceptance is to stop letting outer conditions you are powerless over hijack your peace of mind and potentially lead you to relapse.
You can burn up with rage every time you drive through that dangerous intersection, or you can exercise reasonable caution and trust that you’ll make it through in one piece. Some people stay sober without practicing acceptance, but they tend to be grumpy and miserable all the time.
Managing Guilt and Shame
People often resist a life of sobriety because feelings of guilt and shame over past behaviors are too painful. They continue to use because they believe that the pain of using hurts less than the pain of acceptance.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic condition, but it’s manageable with treatment. Accepting that you have a substance abuse problem might feel embarrassing, humiliating and ego-deflating. Paradoxically, once you accept the situation, the wild horses of recovery can take you to places beyond your wildest dreams.
Acceptance Is the Answer
Anyone who has attended a few AA meetings will have heard this famous passage at least once. You’ll find it in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
Beliefs That Limit Healing in Recovery
Here are some common reasons why people resist treatment for substance addiction:
- They don’t accept the problem, so they see no reason to change.
- They’re afraid of where recovery will take them.
- They fear the unknown and the uncertainty that getting sober would involve.
- They resist treatment because they feel pressured and coerced by others.
Receiving the Gifts of Change
It has been said that the only thing alcoholics dislike more than change is when things stay the same. While predictability can be comforting, it can also be bad for your health.
A recent study revealed that people who develop addictions have a higher-than-normal need for stimulation. They crave new experiences that increase the action of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical associated with reward and pleasure.
You can boost dopamine levels with exercise, restorative sleep, a high-protein diet, supplements, meditation and plenty of new adventures. An adventure doesn’t have to be a jungle safari.
It can be as simple as grabbing a friend and driving across town to get ice cream at a new custard stand. Any new and stimulating experience will do. Keeping dopamine levels high by embracing change can make all the changes easier and even fun.
How Self-acceptance Affects Self-esteem
Everyone wants high self-esteem, but how do you get it? Not surprisingly, self-esteem is a product of self-acceptance. You can’t have self-esteem without self-acceptance. An important part of recovery is learning to accept yourself completely no matter how unlovable you think you are.
When you fully accept yourself as you are, warts and all, you will begin to experience self-esteem. Everyone wants to be loved for who they really are, and you can give this gift to yourself starting now.
If the only thing that makes you happy is a drink or a drug, it’s easier to accept that you might have a problem. Recovery will change your life, and although taking responsibility isn’t easy, you won’t have to do it alone.
Open the door to acceptance right now by calling Live Free Recovery Services in New Hampshire. Exciting changes could be right around the corner.