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Acceptance therapy

Acceptance Therapy

Accepting being an addict is the first important step to recovery and healing, which also means accepting having a brain disease according to the experts. The solution usually requires an unconditional surrender to an alternative way of life. The old behaviour and attitudes needs to give way to a new spiritualy based philosophy.

“The lack of self-acceptance is a problem for many recovering addicts” NA

Accepting difficult situations helps us stay calm and therefore we can stay clean and sober. Not getting what you want is something addicts find challenging so at Hope we set a treatment task in order that clients learn the value of acceptance.


Things not going their way is also something that addicts find difficult to accept so not getting angry helps stay clean and sober. Control causes frustration and expectations leads to disappointment. Anger and disappointment are common triggers to use. Stress in a the number one trigger. Resistance causes stress. We say reduce stress at all costs.

“Many of us believed that using drugs was our only problem”NA

At Hope Rehab we use CBT types of distortions to help identify and dispute distorted thinking, irrational resistance that stresses us, instead we use positive affirmations to help accept the here and now.

  1. Catastrophising
  2. Faultfinding
  3. I cant stand-it-titus
  4. I must have it
  5. Awfulising
  6. Fallacy of fairness

Self Acceptance in Recovery

Self Acceptance helps us achieve happiness so a balance of changing what you are ready and able to change, together with accepting the rest, even if you don’t particularly like the rest, is going to help. Importance of Acceptance in Recovery cannot be emphasized enough

“Even after we stop using, this denial can continue to plague us. Many of the problems we experience in ongoing recovery stem from an inability to accept ourselves on a deep level” NA

How to Develop Acceptance

Acceptance is a mental attitude that can be developed by saying an affirmation or prayer….

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can change
and wisdom to know the difference”

What we can change and what we can’t change – Knowing the difference comes with time in recovery, after a while we are aware of what is worth changing and what can wait. As time passes we are ready to change more and more as the benefits are so great.

White Flag Surrender

Acceptance-Action as opposed to wishing it were different

The opposite of acceptance is resistance >>

Resistance causes stress >>

Stress causes pain >>

Addicts medicate pain >>

Acceptance takes practice – remember we always have an option, so its up to you which choice you make

Acceptance is an essential tool for those in recovering from addiction

Think of examples of something you cannot change that you don’t like?

  • The weather
  • The economy
  • Other cultures
  • Our genes
  • Our childhood
  • Our past mistakes

Worrying about things we cannot change is unhealthy because;

  1. It means unnecessary stress that make us sick.
  2. We waste time we could use to fix the things we can change.
  3. It means we feel helpless.
  4. It can be an excuse to drink or use drugs.

Acceptance exercise

Write down 3 things you find difficult to accept but are not able to change….




How to decide if Acceptance is Needed;

  1. Identify steps needed to fix a problem?
  2. Decide if other people could help you fix the problem (e.g. a therapist)
  3. Decide if you can realistically take the steps needed to fix the problem
  4. If you can’t identify a way to fix things, the only option is acceptance

Example: “jon’s train is late” John has an interview for a new job. The only way to get to the office where the interview is taking place is to go by train. He gets to the train station on time, but the train arrives an hour late. He is not going to get to the interview on time, and he feels very anxious.

How to use “acceptance therapy”

  1. Identify the problem? The train is late.
  2. Identify any steps to fix the problem? There is nothing John can do to stop the train being late
  3. Decide if other people could help fix the problem. There is nobody John can talk to that can make the train come on time.
  4. Decide if you can realistically take steps needed to fix the problem. There are no steps identified.
  5. If you can’t identify a way to fix things, the only option is ACCEPTANCE.

Once we accept that there is nothing we can do to change a situation? It can be like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders!

Mindfulness and Acceptance therapy

The act of being mindful involves focusing on something that is happening now with an attitude of acceptance. This willingness to ‘let it be’ is the only rational response to this moment because what is already here cannot be changed – we only have the power to change the future.

It is our irrational tendency to resist what is already here that is the cause of most of our suffering. The idea ‘it shouldn’t be like this’ put us on a collision course with reality, and this collision triggers dangerous behavior such as substance abuse.

In concentration meditation, we learn to focus our attention on a sensation such as the breath. We are not trying to change or control the breath in any way – we are just observing it with a sense of curiosity. One of the benefits of this practice is we get better at letting go – we develop ‘equanimity’ which means we stop fighting mental battles that can never be won.

The acceptance we develop through mindfulness practices does not mean we become passive and fatalistic. There is nothing wrong with taking action to improve our future – it is only the stuff we do to change what is already here that is a waste of our time.

How Mindful Acceptance Leads to Lasting Change

It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the things we discover when we begin practicing mindfulness is that acceptance can be the most effective tool for producing lasting change. This is because it is always going to be easier to work with reality than against it.

Let’s say, you are dealing with social anxiety and you are desperate to overcome this condition. The mindful approach requires that we first recognize and accept the anxiety when it arises – this is important because it can be our tendency to resist the anxiety (‘I don’t want to feel this way’) that causes it to escalate.

An attitude of acceptance when facing social anxiety allows us to investigate the situation from a more objective standpoint. We can then start to see that the problem is not anxiety (which is a normal part of life), but the fact that we become anxious about being anxious. This insight can then completely change our relationships with anxiety which triggers lasting change in our behavior.

Mindfulness Practices to Develop Acceptance

All mindfulness practices will help us to develop acceptance. They say that ‘what we practice, we become’, and learning to observe a simple sensation like the breath in an accepting way can change our whole relationship with life.

Here are some instructions for a simple meditation practice that will help you develop acceptance.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position in a chair or cross-legged
  2. Take a few long deep breaths just to get yourself relaxed and focused on the body
  3. Put your attention on the air coming in and out of your nostrils – don’t try to control the breath in any way – notice the cool air coming in and the slightly warmer air coming out
  4. Observe the air coming in and out of the nostrils with the attitude of a scientist conducting an important experiment – remember your job is to just record what is happening without influencing the process in any way
  5. Remain observing the breath for about 10 minutes (use a timer rather than looking at your watch)

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