What Does Acceptance Mean in Recovery?

what does acceptance mean in recovery

Denial can have a strong pull, especially when you are addicted. You may make up excuses for your behavior or try to convince yourself (and others) that you don’t really have a problem. In addiction treatment, admitting and accepting your situation is a critical first step. What does acceptance mean in recovery and how does it help you overcome your addiction?

A Difficult Hurdle

The first step is usually the hardest. Acceptance is one of the most difficult hurdles to cross when it comes to drug addiction and recovery. When you understand that your addiction is a disease and that it changes how your brain works, that can help you reach the acceptance you need to start on the path to recovery.

Your addiction does not mean you are weak or a failure. Your acceptance of your addiction is also not an admission of failure. It is a milestone that will become one of many you’ll reach as you work your way through treatment. Denial will continue to try to creep in and it’s imperative that you continue to cross over the hurdle of acceptance at every step.

Cycles of Addiction and Denial

When you are addicted, you may experience the same feelings and emotions that a person might who is in denial. Not necessarily in any particular pattern, the stops on the cycle are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  

Acceptance is one of the most difficult of these to reach. Denial is relatively easy because as humans we use this as a survival skill to “block out the negative.” Anger is an innate 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.

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.

Denial Alters Reality

Denial is a common response to threatening or stressful situations. It alters your reality by enabling you to perceive events in alignment with your personal biases. Sometimes, you may unconsciously use denial as a defense mechanism to make your reality more acceptable to you. Denial can materialize in the form of:

  • Minimizing
  • Rationalizing
  • Forgetting
  • Self-deception
  • Repression

Denial is a core symptom of addiction as well as codependency. You may use denial to continue your addictive behavior while enduring the destructive consequences and painful relationships that result from your addiction.

Acceptance as a Building Block

What does acceptance mean in recovery for you when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol? Accepting yourself and your reality in addiction is an essential building block of your recovery. You are probably prone to using denial as a coping mechanism to avoid facing your problems.

Acceptance is vital to the recovery process. Before you can make meaningful changes in your life, you must first accept:

  • That you have a problem.
  • That you do not have complete control over every aspect of your life.
  • That you have limitations and flaws.
  • The reality of your circumstances.

When you have learned to accept reality and yourself as you are in this moment, you can begin to work on changing the things you can change, including your addiction.

Change Begins with Acceptance

Recovery requires you to accept life on its own terms, to accept your powerlessness and your limitations as well as to accept those of others. That’s a constant challenge for addicts and codependents, because of your internal anxiety and your illusion that you have control over more than you actually do.

Your power lies in your acceptance of reality, though, which is the point where real change begins. Facing the facts of your life opens you up to new possibilities, even though it will not be easy to acknowledge the painful truths of your addiction.


At BRC Recovery, we recognize that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. Acceptance of your addiction is not a failure; rather it is the first step to a successful recovery. We can help you stop the vicious cycle of drug or alcohol use that has become such a struggle for you. Our team of experts focuses on holistic healing so you can experience real recovery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.