Why Acceptance Is Essential For Addiction Recovery

In recovery, you must accept your addiction as a treatable disease. Acceptance helps you change harmful behaviors without drowning in shame. You can practice it by learning mindfulness, adopting a beginner’s mindset, acknowledging your strengths, and visiting support groups.

When battling substance use disorder (drug addiction), you might get the urge to stay in denial. For example, you may hide your drug use, blame it on other people, or insist your behavior is normal. 

Once you start your recovery journey, however, you must accept your disease and the damage it has caused. Here’s why

Why Acceptance Is Essential For Addiction Recovery

In addiction recovery, acceptance means acknowledging your condition and the toll it’s taken on your life. It involves confronting your past mistakes and admitting you need to change your behavior. 

At first, this process may bring difficult feelings, including shame, guilt, and regret. Fortunately, these feelings don’t last forever, especially when you remind yourself that addiction is a disease and not a moral failure. 

A 2020 study found that people who accept their addictions without blaming or judging themselves face a much higher chance of long-term recovery.

Self-Acceptance Is The First Step

If you don’t accept that your negative behaviors stem from a disease, you can easily drown in guilt and shame. To numb these feelings, you may turn back to drugs, creating a vicious cycle. 

That’s why self-acceptance is the first step in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). More specifically, the first step requires you to “admit powerlessness over drugs and acknowledge that your life has become unmanageable.” 

Later steps involve discussing your addiction and the harm it’s caused with other people in your life.

The Serenity Prayer

AA and other 12-step programs also make heavy use of the Serenity Prayer, which reads, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

This type of acceptance motivates positive change without making you feel ashamed of your illness. It can also help you acknowledge any co-occurring mental health concerns you have, such as depression or bipolar disorder. 

Accept All Your Conditions

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 37.9% of people with addiction also have at least one other mental health condition. When you accept and seek help for all your mental conditions at once, it’s much easier to stay sober.

With a clear grasp on reality and a lack of shame, you’ll have the strength you need to focus on the recovery process. In general, a successful recovery process involves:

  • practicing self-care, including nutrition, regular exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule
  • seeking help at an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program, which may include therapy, medications, and support groups
  • following an aftercare plan to reduce your risk of relapse after leaving rehab

These strategies can help you stay grounded in reality, develop self-compassion, and create a healthy, drug-free life. 

How To Practice Acceptance In Addiction Recovery

Everyone has a unique journey with acceptance. To get started on your own journey, follow these tips:

Learn Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of observing the present moment without judgment. It can help you accept your addiction and any other mental health concerns you have without attaching shame to them. To start practicing mindfulness, simply focus on the sensation of your breathing. 

When a thought arises, acknowledge it, and gently return your attention to your breath. 

While it might seem simple, mindfulness can help you view your addiction in a neutral, realistic way. It also supports the healing process by boosting your sense of well-being. 

To strengthen your mindfulness skills, talk to your therapist, search for mindfulness meditations online, or check out some books on the topic.

Adopt A Beginner’s Mindset

A beginner’s mindset is a state of mind in which you approach new situations with the openness and curiosity of a child. It allows you to view your addiction in an objective sense, without any unnecessary shame or guilt. Some the best ways to adopt a beginner’s mindset include:

  • making an effort to listen more often
  • avoiding black-and-white thinking
  • seeing new challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow

Acknowledge Your Strengths

Acceptance isn’t just about confronting your mistakes. It also requires you to face the positives of your situation, including your strengths. It takes a significant amount of dedication, willpower, and self-awareness to start the recovery process. 

Taking time to recognize these strengths can boost your self-esteem. In general, the better you feel about yourself, the easier it is to stay sober.

At first, it may feel uncomfortable to acknowledge your strengths, especially in front of other people. To make the process simpler, start by writing about your strengths in a journal. Eventually, it will feel more natural to discuss them out loud.

Visit A Support Group

As mentioned above, acceptance plays an important role in AA. It’s also a major topic at other recovery support groups, including:

You can find these groups at most addiction treatment centers. Your treatment team will also likely recommend that you keep attending support groups after you leave rehab. 

At each meeting, you can discuss the importance of acceptance with other people in recovery. Also, people further along in recovery can give you helpful tips on accepting your own situation.

If you or someone you love struggles with substance misuse, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one stay sober.

  1. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5907295/
  2. American Journal of Public Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3698809/
  3. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524566/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: March 14, 2024

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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