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 addiction.
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.