Addicts, Alcoholics, the Principle of Surrender and How Highly Structured
Sober Living Can Help Facilitate the Submission
In this article, we use the term addict to refer to both the addict and
alcoholic. The core problem of addicts is not the substance they are a
slave to, but rather an extreme case of selfishness and self-centeredness.
Waking up an individual to this realization is extremely difficult and
most often requires a genuine surrender. Highly structured sober living
has the platform to create an environment in which addicts are forced
to submit to a way other than their own, but it can only be effective
if coupled with The Twelve Step process and a self-imposed crisis that
the addict is aware of and can no longer evade. This article is written
in the hope of reaching the hopeless chronically relapsing addict who
wants to stop but cannot.
Addicts must be brought to a turning point. It is a place in which they
know their ideas and answers are hopeless. They must be split wide open
and the voice of the liar within must finally be dormant. This period
of time in which the liar is suppressed is quite often referred to as
a window of grace. It is at this point that most addicts end up in a treatment
center or recovery program. The period of time that passes before the
liar re-emerges to reassert himself on the scene is short and always temporary.
So, how do we combat this situation? How do we take advantage of this window
of grace? By implementing highly structured spiritual sober living programs
rooted in The Twelve Steps and forcing addicts to submit to a way other
than their own throughout the entire recovery and sober living experience.
New age contemporary models of therapy and counseling work with the individual
who is a drug abuser or hard addict; they do not work for the real addict
or drug dependent person, one who has completely lost the power of choice
over drugs and/or alcohol. What do I mean by losing the power of choice?
The experience of addicts abundantly confirms that when they begin to
drink or use, they cannot control the amount and when they stop, they
cannot stay away from the first one no matter how great the necessity
or the wish. They are without defense against the first drink or drug.
Losing the power of choice over drugs and alcohol is like losing a leg,
you never grow a new one and the real addict will never regain control.
This is why programs that promote self-help, self-empowerment and better
choice-making do not work for addicts of the hopeless variety —
people who want to quit but can’t on their own. We’re only
relating these concepts to drug and alcohol addiction. We’re all
for an addict re-creating his life if his ideals are grounded in love
and service for others, but the idea of letting addicts who have been
pretty badly mangled make their own decisions regarding extended care
after detox or treatment is very dangerous and in many cases proves fatal.
Time and time again we’ve witnessed treatment centers, sober living
programs, and halfway houses focus on behavior modification as opposed
to implementing a course of action to create a personality change sufficient
to bring about recovery from addiction. We hear ideas and concepts having
to do with self-empowerment and better choice making skills but it is
rare that we hear solutions focused on the regenerative power of God and
the need for a conversion experience. My late grand-sponsor, Mark Houston,
used to say, “addicts must learn to submit to a way other than their
own if they are to achieve permanent recovery.”
Impact Recovery Center strongly believes addicts coming out of detox and
treatment should not make the final decisions regarding their recovery.
In most cases of real addicts at this stage, there has been no complete
surrender to the new way of life; therefore they are doomed to repeat
the insanity of the first drink or drug. We believe that the best chance
for addicts to achieve permanent recovery is for them to enter into a
highly structured, focused, and effective program. They need a program
that will support them every step of the way in having a real 1st step
experience. Thus thrusting them into the experience of surrendering to
a will other than their own. If closely followed by the accountability
structure and direction to line by line, step by step, addicts will have
the profound experience that will free them from the bondage of active
The program of recovery is filled with paradoxes and one of the most basic
is the freedom that comes from this type of surrender. It doesn’t
make sense but it is true just like the more hopeless addicts are when
they’re brought to us, the more hope there is for their personal recovery.
The first step in the program of recovery is to concede to your innermost
self that you are an addict. To concede is to admit, or let in, begrudgingly.
This means, “I don’t want to.” Addicts must make this
realization if there is any hope for their recovery. A gut-level concession
that their ideas and ways of thinking no longer suffice is vital if addicts
are to launch into a course of vigorous action — one that must be
consummated if addicts are to achieve permanent recovery. I did not go
to treatment twice, two sober living programs, a halfway house, and jail
because I had the capacity to make good choices or decisions. Before I
recovered, I always decided to take the path of least resistance, the
easier and softer way. That was my delusion. I was short-sighted and always
went to the end game. I was not capable of making a commitment or entering
a path, by my own accord, that I knew would be uncomfortable or painful.
If you or a loved one are considering seeking treatment for an addiction
to any mind altering substance, please keep in mind the necessity for
complete deflation of the ego. This deflation requires surrender, and
the first step in that surrender is submitting to a structure that you
really don’t want to submit to. Your experience with this loss of
control and choice will be the catalyst for a revolutionary change in
your way of living and thinking.