The word acceptance is often held up as being the key element in any individual recognising that they need help for alcoholism or any other type of addiction.
It has become almost a cliche to say that you cannot begin to get help for a problem until you begin to recognise that you have such a problem.
To any objective outsider that is fairly obvious, but to anyone dealing with alcoholism it is a truth that can take many people many years to realise.
A loss of emphasis is put on the nature of acceptance of alcoholism in rehab and in organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous for a very simple reason.
An acceptance of the reality of one’s life is a precondition for that individual wanting to change it.
What is very obvious to a lot of people outside of the world of the alcoholic, is patiently not clear to the alcoholic themselves very often, and it is important to understand the reasons for this.
Anyone who is an alcoholic or has an addiction to drugs or other substances will have a number of underlying emotional drives and issues that will fuel their alcoholism.
It is difficult to generalise as to how these manifest themselves in people, as every individual is different and will generate a different understanding of their own alcoholism.
However, it is probably fair to say that anyone who is an alcoholic at some point will begin to feel that alcohol is the only thing that is holding them together, and as such will begin to defend alcohol against any attempt by any individual to take it away from them or to stop them drinking.
This need to protect alcohol from other people, from institutions removing it from the alcoholic becomes greater as time goes on and as the consequences of the alcoholism become worse. This gives rise to the nature of the denial that the alcoholic will inevitably have as a defence mechanism to protect their drinking.
The prospect of going into rehab and having to work an addiction treatment program in order to get sober and stay sober is often seen as a threat to their life rather than as an opportunity to get well.
The real work that a rehab can do is to gently help the alcoholic breakthrough that denial and understand the reality of their life in a safe and controlled environment.
The process of acceptance in the context of alcoholism is very much a process, and one that can take a long period of time.
The nature of recovery from alcoholism tends to begin either in a rehab or by going directly to Alcoholics Anonymous for most people. Either way, the sense of having time to unlock the various coping mechanisms and defence mechanisms that the alcoholic feels is holding them together is a key element in giving them the freedom to accept that in reality and move forward with it.