Rejection in Addiction

How to deal with it in recovery

Rejection is not easy under any circumstances. For the alcoholic or addict who may be feeling rejected or dishing rejection, rejection is a difficult emotion because it is entangled with other tough emotions.

When we feel rejected, we also feel certain fears and begin discounting ourselves. In self-defence, the beginning of resentment arises. When we reject others, it becomes anger.

In recovery, alcoholics want to be perfect. But they learn they are not perfect and never will be perfect. With this in mind, they can sort through their anger and ask themselves when anger is okay.

Sometimes they need to remind themselves that suicide is no option, no matter how painful the situation. When they pause and give some thought to this, they are then able to help others. And helping others is a vital part of their recovery.

The addict cannot give up o themselves or on those still addicted. They cannot stop fighting rejection for a moment because it is a mistake they cannot afford.

As practising addicts, they used to feel rejected in an amazingly routine way. They felt angrily rejected when the internet stopped working. So they got drunk. They felt rejected when their two-year-old son did not want a kiss. So they gorged on food.

They felt rejected when their mother did not call to see how they were or when a good friend failed to invite them to a party. They felt rejected when someone at a party frowned when he saw them pour yet another hefty drink.

They felt rejected, again and again, so they went back to their addictions.

These were the reasons they gave for acting out of control. It is hard to believe these types of excuses when they are clean and sober. It is hard to believe they used to be that way, offering an open invitation to rejection in endless situations.

But in some ways, there are still there – even in recovery. They are not perfect.

They can remember that rejection can sometimes be a valid emotion if they examine it and make it a positive outcome rather than a negative outlook.

Positive Responses to Rejection

In recovery, alcoholics have rejected the option of ever going back to their old way of life again. They have rejected suicide. They have dismissed dishonesty, disrespect, fear, grandiosity, unrealistic expectations, loneliness, impatience, and paranoia.

And by rejecting the negative in their lives, they have learned to accept the positive aspects of themselves and others. Thus, some forms of rejection are not so bad after all.

While clean and sober, they may have problems sorting out feelings about themselves or someone else significant in their lives. They may feel inadequate or lonely. They may feel lost and confused.

These feelings are okay. They need to remind themselves that they are human. They need to remember that they are among many who have, at one time or another, experienced similar emotions.

They can no longer reject themselves with the kind of misplaced sensitivity and loneliness that drinking or drugging brought them.

It is helpful to talk to a therapist or sponsor at such times.


Gratitude is the opposite of rejection.

The addict thanks God every morning, night, sometimes every hour of the day for their recovery from a deadly disease. They are grateful to their therapist, twelve-step fellowship and sponsor for being with them at all times as they continue to maintain, or struggle to maintain, their recovery.

We live in a complex world, a world of conflicts. Yet, we do not have to think entirely in terms of opposing forces. We do not have to substitute love for hate, love for jealousy, or love for anger.

This approach does not work. There are no absolutes in the world of emotions.

Rejection can be difficult to deal with, whether it is real or imagined. The important for the addict thing is to care about themselves as rational human beings by thinking carefully about whether or not they have really been rejected.

If they decide they have, they can do something about it. They can accept the rejection, sort through it, and ‘turn it over’ to God or talk to someone who understands.

If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s addiction issues, call Freephone 0800 140 4044

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