In a previous post, The Link between Addiction and Control, I considered whether a pertinent connection exists between addiction and control. I hypothesized that because the internal lives of most addicts are so out of control, they attempt to manage their uncomfortable emotions and feelings of powerlessness by exerting strong outward forms of control. This blog post was shared more times than any other in the seven-year history of this blog. Many readers agreed that addiction and control are connected, and many others did not.
In my new book, The Gifts of Acceptance: Embracing People and Things as They Are, I explain why acceptance is the best antidote for the compulsion to control.
Given acceptance’s strong impact on control, I have been thinking about its relationship to addiction and recovery. What are the links, if any, among the three? Some pertinent questions come to mind:
Do addicts need to accept that they are powerless over their addiction before they can recover from it?
Do most addicts live in denial of their addiction and the impact it has on their lives—and the lives of others? Does this denial lessen with time?
Does greater acceptance weaken their addiction, and conversely, does a stronger addiction weaken their ability to accept?
For the purposes of this blog post, I define acceptance as the recognition of the underlying reality or truth of a person or situation, withoutjudgment or other negative feelings—or at least minimally so. True acceptance is even keeled. (I devote an entire chapter to this complex subject in my new book.)
As is so often the case, questions such as the above are much easier to ask than to definitively answer. Much depends on one’s personal experiences and beliefs, and sometimes maybe is the best answer. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t or shouldn’t have a productive dialogue on such issues, particularly if it can help us and others.
In that spirit, I will start the dialogue by offering my views on whether acceptance is necessary for recovery from addiction.
Acceptance as a Key to Recovery
I believe acceptance is indeed a prerequisite to recovery. The addict must accept that his alcohol, drug, or other harmful substance abuse or compulsive behavior has made important areas of his life unmanageable. As such, the addict must shine the light of awareness on any denial. Unfortunately, for many addicts, that first requires hitting bottom.
On the other hand, acceptance alone is not enough for recovery. Addictions are so powerful that more than just acceptance is needed to overcome them. Recovery also requires the willingness and commitment—and, I believe, the courage—to change self-destructive life patterns. However, even those may not be enough.
Hence, I believe that acceptance is a necessary but not sufficient precondition for recovery.
The Gifts of Acceptance
In The Gifts of Acceptance, I use inspiring true stories to describe the many gifts that acceptance can bestow upon all of us. Practicing acceptance allows us to enjoy greater trust, openness, and intimacy with our loved ones and friends; lifts self-imposed burdens; and reduces worry and stress. It also reveals meaningful life choices and opportunities.
For the addict, acceptance can also initiate the challenging journey to the most life-transforming gift of all: recovery.
Please continue the dialogue by sharing your views, experiences, and beliefs concerning the impact of acceptance on addiction and recovery.
In the meantime, remember to
Let It Go—and Accept What Is!
….And Help Make Acceptance Go Viral!
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I am very excited to report that The Gifts of Acceptance received a starred “Highly Recommended” review in the May 1, 2018 edition of the Library Journal and is the #1 Amazon New Release–12 Step Programs and an Amazon Codependency best seller.