The Importance of Surrender in Addiction Recovery

What is surrender? Have I not surrendered yet? Won’t I be giving up if I surrender? Won’t I be admitting defeat? These are some of the questions that come in mind when someone tells you to surrender. Society has taught us we would be admitting defeat if we surrender to some program. But in reality when we surrender ourselves, we admit to needing help and guidance. We are surrendering to a power higher then ourselves, who we believe will guide us in a productive direction. Spirituality and surrendering go synonymously with one another. And trust is synonymous with these two. Fear stops from trusting but faith is based on trust. You have to keep faith in the program and remember you are not in charge and the person in charged will never steer you wrong.

The first step to surrendering is admitting that you have an illness which requires help. Admitting that you are powerless against it. Addiction forces you to surrender your feelings, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, dreams and your success. The addict does not realize it at that time but he has surrendered himself to the disease i.e. drug addiction. In order to overcome this powerful disease, you have to surrender yourselves to some higher power or entity that may be Allah, your parents or your doctors. Surrendering is about letting go of your ego, your wants, your needs, your desires. It is letting go of the control you think you have over your life and giving that decision to someone else well equipped to guide you into the light. Surrendering liberates you from all this.

In the treatment of psychiatric illness surrender comes in two forms. The surrendering of family as well as the patients to the guidance provided by their doctors. Especially addicts and alcoholics need to surrender their selves, open up their minds and give up their problems to someone who is an entity more capable then them in fighting this battle of addiction or alcoholism.

The third step of AA states ‘We made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God as we understood Him.’ Individuals have to learn to accept a disciplined way of life, which means the tendency of ego comeback, is checked throughout their lives. You have to learn that a single surrender is not enough. The addict needs to keep the faith and continue his or her spiritual journey into an experience that is entirely, different from the destructive, dark lifestyle he or she has lived while using alcohol or drugs. The addict has to understand they are in a losing battle and they have to open their minds to suggestions that have been trained in dealing with such problems.

  • A few steps to practice surrender:
  •  When you notice yourself trying to exert control, take a pause and re-evaluate. Practice mindfulness. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Put yourself in a place of uncertainty and do nothing.
  • Open yourself to the possibilities of life.
  • Allow yourself to vent for a limited time period. But do not make yourself into thinking you are a victim.

Remember that surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. Surrendering means instead of fighting with life, you are accepting things and changes. Acceptance doesn’t mean its ok. It means you are acknowledging the reality of a situation and deciding to take whatever positive action you can from that position.