Addiction treatment starts with surrender, which is described as giving yourself over to something like a higher power. 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Surrender can also mean surrendering to the truth that you have an addiction and need outside support and assistance. Many people describe this as letting go of the “ego” – the part of you that is consumed in your wants, needs and desires. When you surrender, you release this ego to a higher power and no longer have a need to control it.
Why is surrender the key to recovery? And how is this different from giving up? Below we cover what it means to surrender, the importance of this step and the benefits to expect.
The Role of Surrender in Recovery
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can be a long, hard battle. There are good days and bad days, but the best approach is to take things one day at a time – minute by minute if you have to. Surrendering helps this process because you relax and let go of your desire to control things.
Control is a problem in addiction. People often believe that they can control their substance abuse, and if it does become a problem, they can stop on their own. However, this is not the case. Addiction has nothing to do with willpower.
Abusing drugs and alcohol causes damage to the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for problem-solving, self-awareness and controlling behaviors. Additionally, narcotics, alcohol, substances and even repetitive behaviors (such as gambling or sex) hijack the brain’s reward circuits by flooding them with dopamine.
Without medical intervention, it can be almost impossible to stop using drugs and alcohol on your own. The good news is that with the right substance abuse treatment in Phoenix, addiction is treatable. As you go through this process, you’ll receive a variety of treatments and therapies, including the 12 steps. And, the first step in this process is to surrender yourself to a higher power.
Misconceptions about Surrender
There are some misconceptions about what it means to surrender. Some people view it as giving up while others see it as a weakness. However, surrender has a far different meaning than what people think. To surrender is not to move backwards but forwards. It means being open to a different way and realizing that your current choices are not getting you anywhere.
As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why the 12 steps are effective is because of surrender. When you surrender to a higher power, your prefrontal cortex is forced to engage in thought processes that have been long numbed by substance abuse. The brain heals when it is forced into action.
Second, the 12 steps encourage counseling, meetings and friendships with other recovering addicts to help you stay on track with their goals. Addiction is a disease of isolation, but recovery is not. Sobriety is much more rewarding when you share it with others.
Bottom line: Surrendering is not giving up. Instead, it’s about stopping the desire to control things and accepting things for what they are.
How to Practice Surrender
So how exactly can you surrender? Is it as simple as saying the word?
A good first step is to give yourself permission to say things out loud. This could be anything – the purpose of this activity is to be honest with yourself and your higher power. Once you validate these feelings, you must be willing to let go and accept things as they are.
As you feel the emotions that come with this exercise, you may notice physical or emotional pain. Try to process these feelings and look at the situation objectively. This has a calming effect and often makes things seem less important. Objective thinking also prevents you from overthinking and overreacting.
Here are some ways to practice surrender:
Notice when you’re looking to control things. Pause what you’re doing, think about what you’re trying to control and why. Relax and surrender.
Open yourself up to what’s around you. Surely there are things to appreciate in your current environment. A clear blue sky. A loving relative sitting across from you. A warm cup of coffee on a brisk morning.
Give yourself permission to rest. It’s okay if you don’t know what’s going to happen. Things will happen as they should and worrying will not change the outcome.
Love yourself. Avoid judging yourself for feeling the way you do. Look at yourself from a place of love and not fear. What is the next action you can take?
What are the Benefits of Surrendering?
Surrender has some pretty awesome benefits. When you stop giving up control, you relax. You let things come to you and happen as they should. This allows you to be in the present moment and enjoy things as they are. You tune into how you’re feeling, what’s around you and who’s around you. This makes it easier to appreciate life’s journey, even if it isn’t what you expected.
Obviously, this is very important when starting outpatient rehab in Phoenix. Going through recovery is a long process with ups and downs. By surrendering, you’ll be able to:
Tune into how you’re feeling
Become fully present
Pour yourself into every task
Learn from an open mind
Accept things for what they are
Preserve your energy for other tasks
Surrender is not just helpful for recovery. It’s something that all of us can learn from. Trying to control the uncontrollable will only put you in a constant cycle of disappointment when you don’t get your way. This can easily lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety, plus decisions made out of fear. Fortunately, the 12 steps will take you on the path to surrender and self-discovery.
While not required, Continuum Recovery Center supports the 12-step philosophy. By taking part in our holistic outpatient addiction treatment in Phoenix, you will learn the basics of the 12 steps and how they can support a healthy, well-rounded recovery. To start your journey at our caring, compassionate intensive outpatient treatment center, contact us today.