You’ve heard it said many times—admitting you have a problem is the first step. When it comes to drug addiction and recovery, acceptance is one of the hardest hurdles to cross, and it’s required multiple times. There’s the initial acceptance that you do have an addiction and need help. Some people never make it to this milestone. Denial is strong and can be a deadly accessory to addiction.
Knowing that addiction is a disease, and that it changes how the brain works, can help a person reach acceptance. Addiction doesn’t mean a person is weak or a failure. It simply means that they have a disease that needs treatment. Embracing acceptance throughout a life of recovery and management is a key tool. It’s also important to remember that just because a person has accepted their addiction once doesn’t mean that denial can’t creep back into the mix.
Addiction and Grief
The cycles of addiction and denial have a lot in common. The stops are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, this framework isn’t necessarily cyclical. A person can be at any one of these stages for any period of time, and they can hop around throughout their lives. Unfortunately, it isn’t one straight, clear pattern with designated layovers at each stage.
Most addicts, particularly those that have been through a program, recognize these stages of denial (and addiction). Acceptance is arguably one of the most difficult to reach. Denial is relatively easy because as humans we use this as a survival skill to “block out the negative.” Anger is an animalistic response to fear and frustration. Depression is a natural partner to drug addiction, and in fact, the two feed off of each other. Bargaining is a last resort tool that any human will turn to when they see no other option.
But acceptance? Acceptance means taking responsibility. It means admitting that you need help and are willing to take the steps to ask for it. It means signing up for hard work, and understanding that this hard work is for life when facing drug or alcohol addiction. It requires humility. In other words, acceptance isn’t easy, but it’s an integral part of recovery.
How to Speed Up Acceptance
There’s no fast ticket to acceptance, especially for an addict. However, there are strategies to address the previous stages. They all require interference from skilled professionals. It’s nearly impossible to tackle drug and alcohol addiction on your own or with unprofessional “guidance”- remember, addiction is a disease. Do you really want to wing it?
The more time a person spends dedicating themselves to getting help, the better equipped they’ll be to learn the tools necessary to reach the recovery stage. Inpatient treatment programs are generally more effective than outpatient programs. The ability to take time off of work often means recovery becomes a more prominent possibility.
Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction can require full-time effort. It means putting everything else, not just feeding the addiction, on the back-burner and focusing wholly on recovery. Acceptance is a must throughout this process. Without acceptance, a person can’t be fully committed to their recovery.
How does a person know if they’ve accepted their addiction? There may be outward signs, such as “slips,” but more importantly it’s in the gut. Are you “faking it until you make it?” That’s actually a rather effective approach and can work. It’s a type of cognitive reconditioning, but it may not “take” if it’s not guided by a pro.
If you’re looking to increase acceptance in your life and get help for drug or alcohol addiction, the best move you can make is to connect with a specialist. Not quite there yet? There are ways you can move towards acceptance in a self-driven manner.
For instance, journaling can be a very effective means of pursuing acceptance. If you find yourself with “writer’s block,” try starting a dream journal instead. Exercise, especially a mind-body option like yoga, can help encourage healing and acceptance. Surrounding yourself with healthy, positive people is part of building a network you can count on as you consider a life of recovery. No matter what stage you’re at, know that acceptance is at the heart of a healthier, better life.
Photo is pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Trevor is a freelance content writer and a recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.