What is ‘Surrender’ in Addiction Recovery?

Surrendering is essentially letting go – a vital part of the process of addiction recovery. Letting go of resistance and submitting to an entity and their authority or ideas. Letting go of old beliefs that did not work. And, subsequently, letting go of accumulated baggage of the past that drags them back into a repetitive pattern of addictive behaviours.

Addicts are convinced they can control their drinking or drugging, and their non-acceptance of the fact that they are out of control causes them more profound dysfunction and distress. Once When an addict surrenders, they are effectively admitting they are powerless and handing over power to someone or something else. It provides a sense of immense relief for the alcoholic.

Surrender is not giving up

Many people think surrendering is giving up. When a person is giving up, he or she is giving in to their addiction. However, when people surrender, they are giving their addiction to somebody or something more powerful than them to control, saying “I tried, I couldn’t, but maybe you can”. They don’t surrender because they’re hopeless, they are submitting because they’re hopeful that they can get out of their addiction.

There is a universal truth about power – nobody likes to give it up. Society has taught us that surrender is a sign of weakness. We’ve learnt that if we control things, we are strong and worthy. Because of this deeply ingrained belief, many addicts come to the point of Surrender or Die. If somebody held a gun to their head, they would have no choice but to do what the person told them to do. This is the case with addicts who hit ‘rock bottom’. When all else fails, and they have no other option, they may consider recovery – by surrendering to the fact that they’re not in control and that they need help from an outside source.

 

Man sitting with the sunset

Surrender to win

Addicts and alcoholics in recovery need to surrender to a program or directions of a therapist. They need to understand and admit that they are in a battle where they are losing. They evidently do not know what is best for them. But some people have been professionally trained, and people who have been through a similar battle and made it out alive, who may be able to help them. They need to open their mind’s door to their suggestions. This is what the Third Step of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program means: “We made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Of course, not all addicts believe in God, or need to believe in God, or have the same concept of God, which is why AA uses the term ‘Higher Power’ or ‘God as we understand him’. The Third Step calls for the addict to surrender and hand over their problem to an entity more capable entity than them in fighting addiction – whatever it may be. It could be a therapist or a group of AA members. Anything or anyone, but themselves. Once they do that, they can move forward in the recovery process.

Surrender is spiritual

Multicoloured Rainbow

Surrender is spiritually synonymous with trust. Without believing that you will be okay, that you’ll be taken care of, how can you give up control? To gain trust and faith, you should also be ready to give up your old ideas which have not been of much help.

Mostly, it is fear that stops people from going ahead into unchartered territory. Faith is the opposite of fear. All spiritual pursuit begins with surrender. At church, temple or other places of worship, we proclaim complete surrender to our God or deity. Once you face this fear and have a leap of faith, you can ‘Plug into the Field of All Possibilities’.

Recovery is a new life

Woman sitting at the edge of a pier

An alcohol and drug-free life are replete with never-before opportunities. It’s a new phase of growth, development and progress in all areas of life. The addict needs to ‘keep the faith’ and continue his or her spiritual journey into an experience that is entirely, and spectacularly, different from the destructive, dark lifestyle he or she has lived while using alcohol or drugs. Remember, you are not in charge. God is.

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