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Self-Acceptance in Addiction Recovery

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Self-Acceptance in Addiction Recovery

Recovering from addiction is a step by step process towards self-acceptance and change.

People in addiction are primarily working against their own personal health and well-being.  Therefore, the longer substance abuse occurs, the greater the damage experienced.  In fact, the destructive patterns of behavior created by the cycles of addiction fuel the shame and self-hatred that is characteristic of a substance abuse lifestyle.  Conversely, self-acceptance in addiction recovery helps to motivate and further sobriety maintenance goals.

Addiction invariably produces negative feelings of shame and guilt that damage and continuously erode the individual’s self-esteem as the substance abuse lifestyle becomes deeply entrenched. It is not uncommon for addicts to describe themselves as being weak, worthless, or of low moral fiber.  These perceived deficiencies are also supported and reinforced by the uncontrollable behavior that it takes to feed the addiction.  Part of the process of overcoming habituated drug abuse is helping the addict to replace these negative feelings with a new vision of a life free from the obsessive and compulsive desire for and use of drugs. Drug intervention counselors help patients to identify, address, and let go of these negative emotions.

According to addiction treatment experts, self-acceptance is a critical component of the recovery process.  As people make their way through the drug rehabilitation labyrinth, self-acceptance help them to challenge erroneous belief about themselves and their addiction.  Self-love also help them to put into perspective, the criticism and rejection that perpetuate feelings of hopelessness and failure. Griffin, a former addict that has been in recovery for some time explains how he applies self-acceptance in his own life in the following statement. “I acknowledge my character defects and spiritual shortcomings and put one foot in front of the other on a quest to correct them through acquired wisdom and a constant renewal process” he said.   The path to self-acceptance, experts of the SMART recovery model suggest, begins with the following:

  • Recognizing and accepting that today you have an addiction that you need to take steps to overcome.
  • Working through a program of recovery to halt the addiction and breaking unhealthy habits that perpetuate the cycles of addiction.
  • Acknowledging poor decisions and being accountable for them without continuously berating yourself for creating the negative consequences that resulted from them.
  • Focusing on the process of recovery rather than past mistakes or fears about the future.

Part of the recovery process, according to scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is urging patients to recognize the positive qualities within themselves and continuously build on these traits.  People in recovery that have learned to accept themselves are also better able to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life that typically is a confluence of success and failure, acceptance and rejection as well as loss and gain.  Studies also show that self-acceptance boost emotional stability and help to support long term sobriety. And, since sobriety maintenance is essentially a lifelong process, if nurtured, self-acceptance will continue to improves overtime.

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