Acceptance vs. Approval: How They Can Affect an Addict in Recovery

Drug and alcohol addiction has long-lasting consequences in a person that pushes and pushes and brings about loss after loss in a person to the point of that person necessitating help and assistance from others.  Substance abuse has the proclivity to create dangerous and in fact disastrous conditions in people.  Even after one achieves sobriety there is absolutely no guarantee of a lifetime of peaches and cream and easy streets.

Having suffered from addiction myself decades ago, I speak from first-hand experiences in this area.  My own substance abuse crisis nearly took me over, with problem after problem after problem rising up and creating, in fact, devastating issues for me.  Though I beat addiction, I have seen others who haven’t.  I have seen people who had years and years of sobriety crash and burn and suffer immensely.  It often does not take much.  The position of recovery is often not a stable one, and I feel the need to caution those in recovery who would seek out a life of danger and risk to stay your hand in your decisions and build your strength and your resilience before you take such risks.

One thing I have noticed is that one’s position in life and one’s relationships with others can absolutely make all of the difference when confronting the crisis that is drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse in general.  Perhaps one of the greatest factors in whether or not a person will make it in their life of recovery is whether or not he or she seeks out acceptance from people or approval.

Which Course of Action Should a Recovered Addict Take?

I have seen all too often recovering addicts trying their hardest to gain approval from others around them.  The problem is, when recovering addicts live in this way, they encourage the growth and the continuance of the stereotype of, “Recovering Addict.”  That is not a pleasant stereotype by any means at all.  I have seen recovering addicts beg and plead for the approval of their peers and seniors to the point of sheer propitiation.  It is not a fun thing to watch.  I have seen recovering addicts go so low in this quest for approval that they relapsed.

But why did they relapse?  An interesting thing occurs when someone degrades themselves to the level of needing approval from others.  In doing so one instantly degrades their own personal value.  In doing so, one automatically forfeits one’s own confidence in oneself.  In doing so, one automatically experiences the feelings of degradation and depravity that someone who abuses drugs and alcohol often feels.  This is by no means a safe or comfortable condition to be in.  In fact, it brings about relapse.

Because a person who is seeking the approval of others has a very low opinion of themselves, such a person will also have a tendency to be more at risk for relapse than someone who does not seek that approval.  Because of this, a deep-rooted desire to seek approval is actually a lot more dangerous than most people think it to be.

Better yet to strive to seek acceptance from people.  Acceptance means to simply get the people in your life to accept that you used to be a drug addict or an alcoholic, and then to move on.  Acceptance means getting those who you care about to not turn a blind eye to your past but to also not set expectations for you that are not real to you.  Acceptance is not an unachievable conquest, but it is still a challenge of sorts.

I urge you to strive for acceptance, not approval.  Once you cross a certain line and begin to desire and need the approval of others, you break into a realm that can itself bring about a relapse.  Steer clear from this mindset, and instead, work to achieve the acceptance of those whom you care about.

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