Arguably, one of the most challenging aspects of addiction recovery is the immense lifestyle changes an individual must attain to reap the rewards of sobriety. Change is never easy because it seems to never come when we are prepared. But change for recovering individuals may be even more difficult because they are aware that these changes must be made and purposefully must take action to make sure of said changes. Those who seek to live a successful and profitable life must learn acceptance in recovery before they make the dedication to sobriety.

Why is Change Important?

A big hurdle for individuals in treatment is finding acceptance in recovery. When individuals cannot accept the process of change throughout addiction treatment, they are less likely to gain the healing and open up to the knowledge they need to learn throughout treatment. 

Without change, an individual in treatment is held back, which is why it is so important for them to see the need for change. Some reasons why individuals have difficulty finding acceptance in recovery include:

  • They simply do not see the need for change. Therefore, they do not wish to change.
  • They are afraid of the unknown that change brings to life.
  • They would rather not change and stick with what they know than gamble with change.
  • The change proposed does not seem comforting to the individual.
  • They have an automatic negative reaction to change because they are opposed to others’ demands.

The Benefits for Finding Acceptance in Recovery

Sure, change is unknown territory, but is the unknown always a bad thing? Life is constantly moving and changing; change is the way of the world and part of each life. If a person never changed, they would remain the same their whole lives and never grow or learn. Change is necessary to receive any benefit to life, and the same goes for addiction recovery. If an individual does not learn to embrace change recovery brings, they are setting themselves up for immediate failure. But, for those who do understand and embrace change in treatment, the benefits are plentiful. Change throughout recovery is important because:

  • Addictive behaviors need to change to become successful throughout sobriety.
  • Addiction recovery is a process and not a switch that is flipped. It takes growth and development to discover the benefits of recovery.
  • Staying in one place does not encourage the learning of knowledge needed for successful recovery.
  • The lifestyle of addiction is a cycle that must be broken through change. Without change, an person is doomed to remain within the cycle of addiction.

How to Embrace Change throughout Recovery

Individuals who may fear change throughout recovery must first understand the importance of change so that they are more willing to adapt to it. Fortunately, individuals with a fear of change can learn to accept change so that they can benefit from it.

  • Accept that change is a vital part of the recovery process before even enrolling in addiction treatment. This will set you up for success from day one.
  • Work on self-esteem throughout recovery so that you are more encouraged by the potential benefits that change may bring. Self-esteem exercises may include yoga, individualized therapy, and meditation exercises.
  • Express your thoughts and worries about change that recovery brings to yourself in written form. Expression is key to the acceptance of change.
  • Realize that the past equals addiction and that your decision to walk down the path of recovery is walking away from the consequences of those addictive behaviors. Once you are open to change, you are open to leaving your addiction in your past.

Tips for Finding Acceptance in Recovery

It is most common for people to make changes in their lives once it is completely necessary. Change can be scary and accepting change in life often means some discomfort. Most people yearn for a safe and comfortable feeling, but in many cases, getting out of the comfort zone brings about growth. 

Comfort revolves around maintaining habits. Humans tend to be creatures of habit which means when we try to make change happen, it feels as if we are going against human instincts. Fortunately, we are capable of reprogramming and overriding habits. The following tips can help with acceptance in recovery and accepting change in life. 

Start With Intention

Finding acceptance in recovery starts with a shift in mindset. To deal with or to enact change, you should stand by the idea that recovery is your chosen action. Though it sounds cliche, create an intention and support it. Accepting change in life is a tool that will be useful throughout the entirety of life. Life is filled with change, and the feelings that come with change are only temporary. 

When you make an intention to find acceptance in recovery, be definite. Vague intentions are difficult to commit to. Look at the greater picture and understand why you are committing to treatment. 

Find Motivation

Each of us finds motivation in different areas of life. Intentions can get us started and can help us align with our goals. Without sufficient motivation, we may find ourselves moving off track in terms of our goals. Motivation must come from within and encourage us to meet our goals. In treatment, you may find motivation in your peers overcoming challenges or through one-on-one therapy sessions.

Wherever it may be, motivation can help when accepting change in life. When you can come to an understanding that the change you are experiencing is for the greater good of yourself and your health, acceptance in recovery becomes easier. 

Know Where You Stand: Why is Change Important?

Embracing change and acceptance in recovery is not an easy task. Pride yourself on the progress that you make, but do not beat yourself up if you are having difficulty accepting change in life and recovery. Understanding how humans interact with change can help during the recovery process. In 1997, the American Journal of Health Promotion released a six-stage model that explains the process of change and acceptance:

  • Pre-contemplation: This is the first step regarding the decision-making that arises related to change. During this stage, you may not have seriously considered making changes in your life (such as entering recovery). At this point, you may still be trying to rationalize your substance use.
  • Contemplation: At this point, you may be at least pondering making a change. You may be more open to the idea but need more information before making a decision.
  • Determination: At this stage, you have committed yourself to make a change. Here you are putting together a plan of what needs to be done to make the change happen.
  • Action: Here, you have put your plan into action. In terms of people in recovery, this stage refers to the action of committing to a recovery program. You may find yourself second-guessing. It helps to have an open perspective to see what is truly right for you. 
  • Maintenance: Maintenance can last years. You are committed to your plan, but it is not always easy. This is why recovery is a lifelong process. This does not mean it is entirely daunting. Maintaining your recovery goals can give you the most pride and satisfaction throughout your life. Relapse is possible during this stage. Remember why you enacted change in the first place and how far you have come.
  • Termination: Reaching this stage means you feel secure in your recovery and your ability to maintain your goals. Once you make it to this point, your perspective is strong. You have dealt with the difficulties of acceptance in recovery and accepting change in your life. By staying true to your recovery, you have built up tools that will help you maintain sobriety. 

You Are in Control of Your Response

Keep in mind that you can’t control everything that is happening in the world. You can’t even control the things that are happening around you. When you are experiencing a rough transition, whether it’s into a rehabilitation center, a new school, or job, you will feel uncomfortable with the changes. Events within these changes will happen whether you like them or not. The only thing you can control is your response to these events. 

Accepting Change in Life

Change can bring necessary improvements to your life and to the lives of your loved ones. Change means growth. Staying stagnant in life and staying in your comfort zone will not bring out the best in you. When you feel a setback, know that the rough feelings will pass. Instead of considering relapse, see it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Tools you pick up along the road do not go anywhere. You will have access to everything you have learned throughout recovery. 

Change helps us be mindful — instead of resorting to automatic or habitual responses, we are forced to live in the moment. Accepting change in life is an excellent tool that will not only benefit you in treatment but for your entire life. Sometimes life-altering change is needed, and that is okay. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if you have a long-term view, you will come to an understanding that change is necessary.

You Are in Control of Your Response

Keep in mind that you can’t control everything that is happening in the world. You can’t even control the things that are happening around you. When you are experiencing a rough transition, whether it’s into a rehabilitation center, a new school, or job, you will feel uncomfortable with the changes. Events within these changes will happen whether you like them or not. The only thing you can control is your response to these events. 

Embrace Change through Addiction Treatment

Ready to embrace change in your life by overcoming your addiction with alcohol or drug treatment? The Discovery Institute can help you embrace the change needed in your life to overcome your addiction and live a life free from its hold! Check our many programs and services available to all individuals who choose to enroll at our facility. Have any questions about our programs, facilities, or services? Give us a call today to talk to an addiction admissions specialist for a confidential conversation to answer any questions you may have.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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