Define respect: What is respect in addiction recovery?

Get a lesson on respect from a life addiction coach. Learn how to define respect, and who it’s most important to show respect to in recovery. More on what respect is here.

minute read

Quotes about respect

When I was asked to do an article on respect, my thoughts immediately flashed to Aretha Franklin’s 1967 theme for the feminist movement- “R.E.S.P.E.C.T”.- which upon examination of the lyrics, tells us that she will do anything in return for respect. Respect is very important to each of us! (I was surprised to learn the song was written and first recorded by a man-Brook Benton in 1965.) That the song was recognized as the “anthem” for major social change emphasizes how important respect is to living an abundant life.

Again in my research, I looked for famous quotes that relate to respect. The one most often cited is by Stacey Charter who is known for being quotable:

“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”

Respect impacts every addict

In working with the varied client base I do, there is a word that has to be addressed with each and every person no matter what their issue. The word is RESPECT and it impacts relationship with others, but most importantly, it impacts your relationship with that most important person, YOU. How can you give to others what you haven’t got for yourself? If you believe that you should do on to others as you would have them do on to you, why do you do the things you do to yourself?

How to define respect?

When talking about a word, I like to make sure we’re all on the same page. I turn to Webster’s for clarity. Webster’s defines respect as “the special esteem or consideration in which one holds another person or thing”. Good enough?

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Now let’s add respect for self, or self-respect, into the hopper.

Have you got it?

Apply respect of self to your life

You are here to focus on addiction. That you’re here is a statement in itself. I would strongly suggest you may want to give some serious thought to respect – the respect you have for yourself and others. If you “over indulge” in behavior that might be considered by some as addictive, what are you saying about your own level of self respect? And if you can’t respect you, truly, how can you respect others? As Stacey says, “make the changes that you see fit” and do it for you.

Please go back and look at the Webster’s definition and then apply it to your own life. Is there something lacking?

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In working with others, I coach a holistic approach focused on balanced living, the practise of good mental, physical and spiritual hygiene. The start point is learning respect for self, and it is an absolute necessity for anyone who truly wants a life filled with peace and serenity, a life with hope. Without respect for self, how can you expect the respect of others, something we all aspire to?

When it comes to addiction and recovery, I do not think there is a one size fits all solution. I do believe addiction must be “holistic” but to be blunt, I don’t think recovery is the exclusive property of 12 step groups. That I am a member of a 12 step group tells you something, but I have worked with 100’s who have recovered without going in a meeting room. I coach people to success and work with them for the recovery that they can get.

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Next week, join me and let’s continue on with this topic. If you think that “respect” might be an issue in your life, and you want to take some action, I’ll share some simple things you might try and give you one way to test low self esteem for addicts.  Share your comments and I’ll read them all and try to address your issues from my perspective next week.

About the author
I am a Master Life Coach who is ICF certified and a certified addictions coach. I consider myself recovered from the effects of addiction (16 years) but still in recovery mode as it relates to personal growth. Professionally, I am university educated, a former corporate CEO and have been in the consulting business for over two decades. I'm a husband, father, grandfather, friend, uncle son, a trusted confidant and many other things but bottom line, I'm Keith. I hope that I can help SOME out there with ideas that will make you think deeply.


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  1. hi im an addict had about 3 years I repaired relations parents brothers and my son and also got out of a 19 year relationship that changed and my feelings wer different felt i need to leave this also helped my relationship with my son to be more closer. I have been alone for 2 years now started drinking once in a while and sometimes with my son. But would have control he offend would get drunk. so stopped that and just always try to-educate him on drugs and problems it caused in my life hopes he wont go there.

    sometimes he get disrespectful to me and would like to fix this and see he is unhappy . he has a girlfriend. well i am unemployed getting depressed he is prescribed adder-all he offered some for me they have been helping getting me motivated he has gotten a DUI recently. well i was overwhelmed grandmother is dying i had adder all then tuned into relapse of speed i was honest to him. i don’t want to be part of him drinking and really want to be there for support. weel we fought and he had shared it was like when he was a kid i of course i felt shame and hurt.
    proceeded to use for weeks very depressed and he wont talk to me at all i have been calling just apologizing for my actions just because i really was over the edge and hurt because i feel like i lost him and he wont be in my life. Im better and cleaning up and just trying to get work he wont talk im hurt from what he said and how he treated me but feeling i blew it everything is out the door i worked on he seems embarrassed of me not proud and i saw more then ever before and i need to handle this or im really struggling with staying clean the hurt is so bad and that all i knew was to numb but know from having recovery i need to face the feelings because i will never get him back please help im stuck between a rock and a hard spot. ps he really hurt my feeling when i was honest about using that weekend and he has used himself before and does use adderall although he hates speed and ruined my life and when he was a child he remembers me having a lot of drama and i was working and gone a lot i was a single mom

  2. “Respect” was written & first performed by Otis Redding. Brook Benton lots of other good songs, though. If you care to verify, here is the BMI database.

  3. Thanks Mr. Darcy for an insightful question, let’s see if I can share some thoughts that resonate with you.
    In my experience, self-respect was something that I gained/regained over time.
    Getting the respect of others was something I had no control over, and there were others in my life where the damage I had done was irreparable, not because of me, but because of them.
    It took along time to regain respect and trust from some very close to me. But with time, it did happen.
    With others, they respected the choices I had made and were very supportive.
    I help my clients find healthy self-respect and self-esteem and a spiritual center and life balance. It is the path I’m on and requires daily maintenance.
    I can say today, not all of the people I meet love and respect me; I accept that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    The guy I saw in the mirror this morning I respect with all his warts. Funny, most people I meet today that get to know me, respect me.
    If you would like to have a chat about this, it would be my pleasure.
    Thanks again for a thoughtful question.
    Keith Bray

  4. Respect is, indeed, a desired by those addicted or not – recovery notwithstanding. And I believe you can (truthfully) have respect for one’s self but lack the respect of others; chalk this difference up to the inherent fickleness of humanity. While it’s relatively easy to detail this issue in the abstract, it’s quite another for a recoverying addict to process the conflict resulting from clashing opinions on resepct (internal vs. external). At what point has the recoverying addict made the changes that warrant external respect, and what does one do when it remains lacking?

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