How to stop using drugs on your own: Surrender to Win!

This can be YOUR YEAR. It can be the year that you finally surrender your addictions, worries, fears and regrets from the past. How to stop using drugs on your own here.

minute read

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,


About the author
Paul J. Wolanin is a professional addictions therapist living and working in Northern Michigan. He is author of Chopping Wood and Carrying Water: One Day at a Time , a 30-day recovery devotional available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. He also runs a website where he offers tools and tips to keep your recovery on track. Sign up for his newsletter by visiting him at Paul Wolanin's Author Site.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. I don’t get it Why is God always in the mix.Yeah u could use nature or the galaxy as your higher power but the person giving advice always uses God as their higher power. I find this fact very depressing.How can I take advice from someone who believes in something which to me is a fairytale that isn’t real and doesn’t exist.To me it shows me that this person is hiding behind God and is very insecure and it puts all his/her techniques and,”steps”, into doubt.How can someone use God to stay clean and be strong.Why can’t he/she do it without putting all their control and power in a fictional God, and why surrender yourself to a make believe God who apparently is the higher power to surrender to.I don’t want to surrender to anyone or anything except to myself. I want help from an atheist who doesn’t mask the reason I am a junkie behind God.That is very unhealthy mentally.There should be NO hiding place from yourself. I need mentally exposed to my weaknesses and find the truth and not use past trauma as an excuse bcoz that is a justification that junkies hear from doctors.All this does is suppress the guilt in junkies and causes more drug use.The system is fucked.C.

  2. I have realized I will always be an addict. I will always need something on a daily basis as to overcome my addiction and make it thru another day. I’m a good person that also get taken advantage by other for my kindness. I can not seem to hold a job now for the last 3 year’s. I’m in a serious need of change. I don’t wish to lose all control of myself and let the drug rule my choices. I want to be in charge of my life. Help. I found myself waking up on the morning if I sleep at all , in need of a drug to get my day started then a drug to get me to sleep. Please help me. Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl S. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting better. Addiction is tough to overcome, but not impossible. Many people have succeeded. First of all you have to change your mindset, and start believing you can change and you can get better. Yes, addiction is a treatable disease. I suggest you consider checкing yourself into rehab. Rehab is the key to learning new habits and building a new you. Call us on the number displayed on th website. We’ll explain the treatment options and help you find what best for you.

  3. I had to try it just one more time and as soon as i did i said to myself wtf did i do it for in an instant i new i wasnt missing anything that i just gave up 7 months of sobriety i just gave up my new life that i forgot to be grateful for that day ..i just gave up living in my sober living apartment with great roommates i gave up great friends ,i gave up my belief in myself my higher power ,,i just wanted to try it one more time HERION that is one month later im strung out again telling myself tomorrow i will go to totally dishonest with every part of myself im lying im ungrateful .worst of all my mind is wasting away and i can tell im in hell half the day stuck in my mind with horrible thoughts knowing exactly where this ends..with me insane or dead soon if i dont surrender and get help and i yes i have to maker the choice ..GOD MY HIGHER POWER HELP ME I SURREDER TO YOU

  4. Sigh. . . . I dont think I’ve ever been in such a dark, empty, cold and lonely place within, that all I feel is it would be better to rather die and get out the way

  5. I am addicted to morphine and snorting Wellbutrin. The latter is the hardest to quit. It has a hold on me and I just can’t shake it. I am a chronic relapser over the course of many years. I’ve been in and out of recover and programs. I just started IOP, I have a sponsor and a home group. My life is totally falling apart, I’m about to lose everything if not my life.i want to quit I hate it. It consumes me. But I’m just going to keep trying, never give up.

  6. Thanks for the positive message. Am addicted to all that u have mentioned. I felt I couldn’t save my self from my addiction and gave my life to Christ. But still I can’t quit drugs and alcohol. Pray for me please because i feel hurt but can’t save my self. The devil uses problems to control my life that drugs and alcohol end up being my comforter. Every day I feel it’s the end but can’t keep my word. The devil uses stress and problems to control me. I gave my life to Christ to change but I’ve failed. I feel guilty. I feel tired but am trapped. Pray for me

  7. I want to quit drugs but due to some personal reason i can’t get admitted.this one is my major problem,can u plzzz help me out. Can i be recover with medicine only and don’t hav to get admitted

    1. Hi Wasim. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best treatment for you.

  8. God bless everyone with this, I made through with just him alone the first time for two and a half year. Thanks for the reminder. Higher power


  9. I just used for the first time in 4 months and I found out that this life is not what I want. I’m very depressed everyday and I don’t want to be here any more. I’m with a man whom I really love and I have let him down before and now I have done it again. I don’t know how to tell the truth to him but I know he knows. I don’t know what to do. I live with him and I don’t want to lose him but the relationship between us is different and I don’t think that I can fix anything

    1. Hi Mary. Tell him the truth… Also, you may consider couples therapy. And, if you need any addiction treatment options, call the helpline you see on the website.

  10. Hey you, yeah….YOU. I know what you’re going through. And I will tell you how it ends. I am a 25 year old girl and I spent the last 7 years on and off of any type of narcotics. I’m free…let me tell you how this feels. First, let me warn you.
    Getting on drugs will give you the single most difficult, painful, soul-crushing experience in your life….soon or later. You’ve never experienced completely LOSING yourself and all form of life and hope like you will if you take for just one more day. Because one more day is just a precursor to an endless number of one more days. I know you don’t believe me….I know you think you have control….I know you’ve heard that before….but you don’t….and you won’t. Because if you take for one more day thinking you can stop tomorrow….tomorrow never comes. Because why would you wake up and choose to stop taking when you could just choose to do it “one more time”….to feel good today instead of bad. You won’t. Don’t tell me you will.
    You might find yourself 7 years later and talking to your sister about how she gets the same high, happy, “all is good in the world” feeling without any drugs, as I do with them….and not be able to for one micro-second wrap your head around that idea or remember what that was like, or if you have even experienced that before. Because in the blink of an eye….you lose control….and you forget. And you look back and all you can remember is being unhappy without drugs…we can’t seem to remember any joy we actually did feel…that’s because the drug will refrain to give you any reason to let go of it.
    So here I was….7 years later….after endless nights of crying and asking God to help me stop…but waking up the next day to choose to take something because why wouldn’t you choose happiness if it came in an easy to take form? You would. And then it wears off and at night you find yourself crying and feeling the weighted blanket of shame covering your eyes all over again. But you live to quit another day. Tomorrow? Keep telling yourself that.

    After talking with my sister about her joy and me not being able to fathom feeling it without drugs….I came to the end….I decided that I will never stop if I don’t just do it NOW and choose to never look back. Am I ready? No. We will never be ready.
    I needed to remember how that felt….it really was possible to feel joy and happiness like I do now without habitually taking something right before? I don’t get it and it made my brain hurt and my heart ache that I couldn’t grasp this. I really am not normal anymore.

    So I stopped. Cold turkey.
    I just decided that I am going to suffer….because if I don’t feel the pain I need to feel from 7 years of drug use than I will never be terrified enough of returning. So I did…I didn’t occupy my mind with other things to get it off of the withdrawals, no….I took it all in. Every restless leg jerk at 4am, every anxiety-ridden thought, every tear. And I just prepared myself for the worst….and somehow….that made it easier….
    But cut to 6 days later. In the past withdrawals took about 3 days and on the third day it was either the worst and gone the next day or already gone completely. I think it’s because in my mind I always had that blanket of drugs to run back to because I never fully committed myself to stopping for good.
    But not this time….it’s day 6 and for the past few days I gradually began feeling nothing…..just….nothing. And by nothing you’re probably thinking…that doesn’t sound all that bad. We hear in songs all of the time about feeling nothing and it somehow sounds attractive almost. But no…it’s not. It’s not at all what you imagine it to be like.
    Imagine opening up your eyes in the morning to a feeling of complete apathy towards life. You have absolutely no desire and no motivation to get up. You look out of your window and all you can see is death…decay…surrounding and in everything. You feel no life. Nothing. Nothing except this hollow, empty, hungry feeling in your chest and gut that is driving you to the point of insanity.
    Insanity? No….that’s not actually all that attractive either.
    I had NO idea who I was anymore…I didn’t just feel nothing….I WAS nothing. There was not an ounce of life or juice or anything inside of me worth going on and worth fighting for. Why did I fight? I had no other choice. I decided drugs were not an option. And honestly….at this point….the only desire stronger than the idea of taking something to make this all go away….was the desire to just die.
    And stop fighting.
    But I just decided that wasn’t an option either.
    So on day 6….I lost all hope. I thought that I lost all hope on day 4…..but day 6 was a reminder that I did have a shred of hope still hiding in me somewhere on day 4. Now I have found out what it’s like to ACTUALLY lose all hope.
    Withdrawals are lasting too long this time and not even a shred of happiness has entered my lifeless being in the past 6 days. My brain just stopped producing ANY good chemicals. The brain heals right? Well when the spirit is broken….you’ll start to lose faith in that too.
    I just accepted that this was it for me. I am probably going to feel this for the rest of my life. And it’s not that I’m okay with it….but I guess I just developed this coping mechanism in the past 6 days of suffering…. that was that, I accept this. I hate it. I hate me. But I’ll go on. I gave myself no other choices.
    I went to bed on day 6 feeling COMPLETE hopelessness…..really and truly weighing the idea that is it worth living anymore…..I had absolutely no idea that I would wake up the next morning and feel that first BURST of joy inside of my chest. It was more powerful and satisfying than I ever imagined it to be. I began waking up each day….deciding to get up and take a bath, get dressed, do whatever….simply because the idea of doing that made me feel good. I never ever imagined that I would feel this way or get to know what this feels like again after completely losing myself to drugs. But I did.
    I truly believe that sometimes with withdrawals we need to hit COMPLETE rock bottom before there’s no where else to go but up. So if you are feeling absolutely hopeless and like “will this ever end if so….when”…..well, if you’re as far down as you can possibly go, than probably tomorrow.
    But you have to hit that.
    The worse that you feel, the closer you are. And just know…you won’t encounter anything that you really can’t handle. We as humans developed a way of coping with anything. You will survive. So lose hope. But at the same time…don’t.
    Don’t listen to anybody’s stories online about how it took them weeks or months to recover….
    It’s all about how quickly you hit that rock bottom. So that you can fly again. And you might not be able to remember what that feels like….but you will. And just in time. Not a second too late.
    It’s worth it.

  11. I am dependent–or should I say– addicted to drugs.I was on a methadone program at Paramus,NJ called MSW.I had a couple of surgeries that was really hard for me to deal with.I was given benzoes because like I said,it was a tough and hard surgery to deal with;it was only a temporary thing.My clinic or Dr.Rambaran decided that he was going to drop my methadone dose from 90mg to 60mg at one time. I felt a little sick.
    During the the month of October,I have been detoxed from my program. As of the last 2 weeks, I have been starting to use Heroin among 2 to 3 bags a day.I don’t want to go back to taking drugs and messing up my life.I was clean for 11 months before I was given a prescription for benzoes,which I knew was something that I should not use.I took it because I didn’t know how to handle my situation.
    Detoxing from opiates is really hard for me.I have psychological problems:depression,anxiety,personality disorder,fear ,and also confused feelings.When I stop taking opiates,I get these symptoms even worse when I am detoxing.
    My 11months away from Heroin since I started the program was awesome.I was awarded SSI and started getting my monthly checks plus back pay,I was able to establish a checking and savings account,money in my pockets,by a 2 knew bass guitars,new clothes,and a relationship with my mother and sister.
    Now I am trying to put the all of the money in my mother’s vault at her bank because I don’t want to blow it.I am so scared at this point in my life.
    So now the only thing I am asking is for some advice on a good way to get off drugs?
    please,any information would be helpful.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Jeffrey. If you are looking for addiction treatment, call our trusted treatment hotline, our consultants can help you make the best decision for you.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?