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Approval Addiction and Alcohol Use: Are They Related?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

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It's safe to say that today's society suffers from a bad case of approval addiction, or the extreme need for approval. Just take a look at all the selfies and "approval attention" pictures posted on social media. Selfies aren't necessarily bad, but there are some of us who rely on the “attention” of our snapshots to feel good about ourselves. This cycle of dependency, much like other types of addiction, is a big setup for disappointment.

What is Approval Addiction?

Approval addiction is the urge to have everyone agree with or approve whatever you say, do or think. In short, you depend on other people's approval in order to feel valued. This can cloud every aspect of your life to the extent of living in fear of others' disapproval. As such, you may be ready to do anything to avoid such a response. You may even unconsciously “overserve” others or take responsibility for things that are beyond your scope just to escape disapproval or rejection.

Wanting to be liked is one thing but needing approval is another. If you depend on other people's attention to feel good about yourself, you may be more tied to alcoholism than you think.

Some cases of approval addiction are an effect of alcohol use disorder. Children raised in an environment with an alcoholic parent can develop a desire to please other people, avoid confrontations and prevent disputes at all costs. In essence, they “people please” just to feel loved.

This dependency begins at an early age because children brought up by parents who struggled with addiction typically end up taking care of their siblings or parents and being deprived of love and attention themselves--and a lack of approval. Growing up in a dysfunctional family also often correlates to dysfunctional relationships as an adult. Out of insecurity, the adult child of an alcoholic will go on looking for approval from other people, placing their happiness and satisfaction in the hands of other people's opinions. Like alcoholism, this kind of action can spur on a dysfunctional behavior known as codependency.

Codependency and Approval Seeking

Approval addiction and alcohol use is further intertwined when an insecure person enters into a romantic relationship with someone suffering from an addiction. Excessive drinking or using can lead to bouts of anger, abuse, violence, and neglect in the relationship, which can make it very difficult for an insecure person to feel loved. Yet an approval addict will stay in the relationship because of their insecurity. Such scenarios lead to codependency, where each individual is greatly dependent on the other.

These couples get caught in a cycle that begins with the addicted partner becoming excessively controlling and the other partner threatening to leave. This is followed by the abuser being apologetic and giving a lot of love, as well as approval. This approval is just enough to keep the insecure, codependent partner there. This pattern creates a series of highs and lows for the partner addicted to approval. The net result of this is a two-pronged addiction problem: the alcoholic continues their alcohol addiction while the approval addict feels approved and becomes even more determined to remain in the relationship.

Drinking to Fit In

The relationship between approval addiction and alcohol addiction is even more direct when approval is actually sought after in the act of drinking. You see it when people participate in drinking sprees to get approval from their friends or peers. Instead of relying on their own self-worth to feel good about themselves, approval addicts may rely on the affirmation and approval of their drinking buddies instead and find that being buzzed or drunk makes it easier to gain attention. This type of social dynamic may lead to full-blown alcoholism before they realize it.

Approval addiction is a problem that affects millions of people globally and is related to alcoholism in many instances. If you are struggling with approval addiction or alcoholism, reach out for help as soon as possible. Break out of an unhealthy dependence on alcohol and/or approval from others and start living a happy, healthy life just being you.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for behavioral, alcohol or drug addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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