To recover from mental health conditions and substance use disorder (SUD), an individual must be willing to admit that they have a problem that requires treatment. Often, this is the most challenging part of one’s recovery journey. After all, no one wants to admit that they are no longer in control of their behaviors or — even more daunting — their life.
To resist the reality of the problem, many try to convince themselves that they are still in control of their substance use. This may become even more recognizable when an individual starts to exhibit physical, emotional and behavioral consequences of their substance use but is still unwilling to acknowledge the problem. Unfortunately, many people stay in this phase for months or even years after developing SUD.
The fact of the matter is the act of surrendering is essential for reaching and maintaining lasting sobriety.
Understanding the Complexity of Surrendering
There are many different ways that one can define the term surrender. In the context of recovery, surrendering is an agreement to stop fighting or resisting. Some may say that it is the act of admitting defeat.
Humans are driven by survival. The human ego feeds off independence. When people go through challenging experiences in life, especially traumatic ones, they learn to trust their own instincts. For example, most people experience getting hurt by someone they love in their life. As a result, they become less trusting of others and begin to find comfort in isolation. Though this feels to most people like they are protecting themselves, they can get lost in these distorted ways of thought.
The healing journey intentionally teaches people to accept uncertainty and embrace connection and unity. Still, these concepts may seem foreign to someone who has lived in survival mode as a result of trauma. This is no different than the hesitation and resistance many people face prior to committing to recovery. It’s hard for people to trust that they can achieve healing from struggling when they have never experienced it.
Surrendering in Addiction Recovery
No matter where they come from, most people have most likely heard of the Twelve Steps. Twelve-Step programming is used in addiction treatment centers across the globe. It combines group support with a set of guiding principles to help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety.
The 12-Step approach is not for everyone. However, has proven effective in producing long-lasting abstinence for individuals struggling with all different types of addiction. Interestingly, something many people may not know about the Twelve Steps, even if they are familiar with the program, is that the very first step requires an act of surrender.
For example, Step one reads:
“We admitted we were powerless over [our addiction]—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The fact that surrender is central to the 12-Step program reveals how important the process is when you’re in recovery from SUD.
How can surrendering advance addiction recovery?
Surrendering is necessary because it allows individuals to come to terms with the fact that willpower alone is not enough to keep them sober. Recovery is not just about getting sober but learning how to stay sober. In the same sense, many people can do the hard work of achieving sobriety on their own. However, the real issue is that they do not have the tools required to sustain lasting sobriety.
With SUD, the reality is one’s willpower becomes compromised or, in some cases, no longer exists. Still, the act of surrendering to this fact takes courage and vulnerability. Further, if an individual grew up in an environment where these traits were not favored, the act of surrendering becomes much more difficult.
How Can I Learn to Surrender in Addiction Recovery?
First and foremost, understand that no one is alone in their struggle to surrender. As mentioned previously, it can take years for an individual to be willing to admit that they have a problem that requires treatment. If someone is not yet ready to surrender to recovery, they can work to accept that they do not have all the answers. Remember, everyone is only one human being experiencing the world through their own unique lens. Ultimately, what harm could come from learning a new perspective?
Attend group therapy.
Surrendering does not mean an individual has to immediately join an intensive inpatient program. However, sometimes that is necessary when SUD symptoms are severe. An initial act of surrendering could look like attending a local therapy group. People aren’t always ready to share their stories, and that’s okay. Luckily, listening to others share their accounts of their struggles can help individuals relate and feel seen. It may prompt them to recognize some of the consequences that have resulted in their lives because of their substance use.
Be open to treatment opportunities.
Another way individuals can work to surrender to recovery is by being open to different treatment approaches and sober networking opportunities. They may start with a simple therapy session to challenge intrusive thoughts or recognize underlying problems. From there, the therapist may make some suggestions for treatment options that will address the patient’s specific needs and goals. This can help individuals begin to embrace the connections and opportunities the recovery journey can bring.
Casa Palmera is a mental health and addiction treatment center that understands how difficult that initial act of surrendering to the need for help can be for one’s recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you surrender and get the treatment you need, call Casa Palmera today at (855) 508-0473.