If you’re ready to stop using drugs totally or have hope for drug addiction recovery, this can be your time! The New Year will require you to work harder than ever, pray like you have never prayed before, meditate and trust in something bigger than yourself. It will require getting uncomfortable, doing new things and staying dedicated. This CAN BE YOUR YEAR, but only if you surrender. Here, we review how. Then, we invite your comments or questions about tips for recovery from addiction at the end.
Surrender is a tricky subject
The subject of surrender is a tricky one. For many folks merely saying surrender congers up all kinds of thoughts and feelings: weakness, defeat and failure. I know that at one point in my life not too long ago I felt the same way. Surrender meant I was weak. It meant I had failed and meant that I had given up.
In fact, surrender does mean giving up – in a way. Webster defines surrender as: “Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” So how is it even possible to surrender to the disease of addiction, your worries and cares, fears and regrets? Would that not mean just giving up? Would that not mean admitting complete and utter defeat? Where am I going with this whole surrender thing?
Control vs. powerlessness
As it is often times muttered in 12-step and other recovery circles, we must surrender to win. We must admit our powerlessness over our addictions and compulsions – and please remember that addiction can apply to anything, not just drugs and alcohol. Addiction can dig its claws into our behaviors: eating, sex, money, power/control, relationships and our thinking. The very first step in surrendering to win is admitting defeat. Waiving the proverbial white flag and admitting that there are certain things in our lives that we cannot control. There are, however, many things that we can control.
We can control our behaviors and our thinking – if we believe in something greater than ourselves. The 12-step program suggests a Higher Power. I choose call my Higher Power God, but you can call your Higher Power whatever you would like. It could be the 12-step program. It could be nature, the universe, or just about anything else you choose – as long as it is not you.
Naming your Higher Power is not as important as believing and knowing that you are not the one in control of outcomes. You are not the one dictating the results of your actions. Although you do hold the keys to your own destiny, you do not know which key will unlock the door to your future. Your job is to keep trying different keys until one of them opens the next door in your journey through life.
Surrender the results to achieve freedom
We can begin to really know what freedom means by surrendering the results of our actions. This is the crux of surrender in recovery and in life. I encourage you to really give some serious thought to this question: What does surrender mean to you?
To me, surrender means that I quit playing God. As the program has taught me, I get dressed, show up and do my best no matter what it is I might be doing. I pray only for my Higher Power’s Will and the power to carry that out. How do I know what God’s Will is for my life? I pray for Divine knowledge and understanding. I think “What would God want me to do today? What would He want for my life? How would He want me to treat others? How would He want me to think about my life?”
That is it.
- I follow the urgings of my inner conscience and get busy but SURRENDER THE RESULTS OF MY WORK.
- I do not predict what might happen or what could happen.
- I trust that if I have a thought that is good, pure and unselfish, it came from God.
- I follow that prompt and feel good knowing that I am on the path.
For me, it is that simple yet it really works.
How to stop using drugs? Start by making a list
I encourage you to take some time today – ten minutes will be adequate to start – and make a list of things you can change and things you must surrender. This is an exercise taken from my book Chopping Wood and Carrying Water: One Day at a Time, and it is such a simple theory that you might easily dismiss it as something that will not work. I assure you, it will work, as long as you keep an open mind and do the work.
1. On a sheet of paper, neatly draw a line from the top to the bottom so you have two columns.
2. At the top of one column, write “THINGS I CAN CHANGE”.
3. At the top of the other column, write “THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE AND NEED TO SURRENDER.” Simple, is it not?
4. For the purpose of this exercise, choose the first thing off your list of things you can change and ask yourself what it will take to change this thing.
5. Now, define just how much work are you willing to devote to changing this area of your life? Write down the steps you will need to take to make this change a reality. Get busy starting today.
6. Remember: Surrender the results of your work to your Higher Power; Surrender the outcome.
The column of things you cannot change might include illness, death of a loved one, the future or the past. Instead of spending time worrying and obsessing about these things, devote a few minutes each day – more if you would really like to see results – and begin to pray for acceptance of these things. Challenge yourself to think of the things you cannot change differently. Move from living like a victim of circumstance towards an attitude of radical acceptance. Although there are plenty of things which are out of your control to change, you can always change your attitude.
Other tips to help you along the way
Make 2014 the year that you turn the corner. If you are struggling with drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, depression or anything that is keeping you from living to your full potential, seek professional help if necessary. Ask someone who is living the kind of life you desire how they did it. Go to a 12-step or recovery meeting. Get out of that comfortable armchair and get into the business of living. 2014 can be your year. Surrender what you can’t change, and get busy on the rest!
Yours in recovery,