Acceptance of a negative condition is the first step toward overcoming it. Unfortunately having a problem such as excessive drinking is something may lead people to feel ashamed and to try hard to hide from others.

A study featured on TIME echoes this sentiment. Apparently, acceptance is imperative in overcoming alcohol addiction and that being ashamed of drinking actually promotes relapse more than recovery.

Researchers interviewed 105 participants who were already involved in a recovery program. They were videotaped as they were asked to relate their last excessive drinking experience. Visual cues of shame and guilt via body language were coded for the exercise.

Four months later, the same participants were asked about their recovery and how well they were doing. Those who expressed the same non-verbal shame cues as they had done the first time had increased alcohol intake--as much as 11 drinks--more than those who showed no shame or guilt.

This meant that those who accepted their condition relapsed less than those who were ashamed of their condition. This result strengthens the argument that shame-inducing tactics and methods to deter negative or addictive behavior only serve to complicate the problem and even make it worse.

The key is to separate the action from the person. By facing their actions and taking responsibility for it, these people avoid the vicious cycle that causes them to think they are “bad persons,” resulting in shame that would make them relapse.

(Photo by Tuomas Puikkonen via Flickr Creative Commons)

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