What is the key to overcoming alcohol addiction? It is participation in a program like AA? It is a trip to your local drug rehab or alcohol treatment center? Is it counseling or therapy or group therapy sessions? Is it medications that help with cravings? Is it in having a spiritual experience? Does it depend on finding God in your life?
Or is it all of these things? None of them?
Quite obviously, it depends on the alcoholic.
We know this if we care to look at the available evidence.
The evidence says that there are some very, very different programs for treating alcoholism, and different people have found success with these different programs.
For example, there are recovery programs that are strictly religious. They are all about finding God. That is the one and only solution, given that recovery program. The 12 step program of AA hinges on a spiritual experience as well.
On the other hand, there are programs of recovery that do not have a spiritual component to them at all. There are exercise programs of recovery. There are nutritional approaches to recovery. There are counseling approaches. And so on. Many of them do not contain a spiritual component at all.
What, then, is the key? What is the determining factor for beating alcohol addiction?
I would say that there are at least 2 critical factors for anyone who has overcome it, regardless of which program or method they use:
1) Absolute surrender.
2) Massive action.
Let’s take a closer look at these two ideas.
Absolute surrender is about hitting bottom. No alcoholic can quit drinking if they are still having a good time with their drinking. It will not happen. Why would an alcoholic even consider quitting if they are still getting enjoyment out of their drinking? It would be stupid to do so. Really stupid. Humans are not programmed that way. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. If drinking is giving us great pleasure, and very little pain, then we will continue to drink. Simple as that. I don’t care who you are or what your ideals happen to be.
Now as the alcoholic continues to drink over the years, they get less and less pleasure from it, and more pain and consequences continue to pile up in their lives. At some point they will reach a point where they are incredibly miserable, and their attempting to get as drunk as possible will not really fix this. They will realize that it is no longer fun, and at that point they will consider the possibility of change.
If it is before this point of misery and surrender, and someone tries to convince them to quit, they might make an attempt, but it will not succeed–regardless of which recovery strategy they attempt to employ. It does not matter. Going to the best rehab in the world will not matter. They have not surrendered. They will not stop drinking. Period.
Now the second point is about massive action.
What this means is that once the alcoholic decides they want to get sober, they need to take massive action. If they take massive action, they will succeed. If they fail to take massive action, they will drink again.
Do they have to find a higher power? Not necessarily.
Do they have to use an holistic approach to recovery? Not necessarily.
What they need to do is to take massive action. Most people in recovery fail because they are lazy and fail to act.
So it takes 2 things: surrender, and action. The rest is really just details. Finding your path in recovery is all about being willing, and then following through.
Don’t sweat the details. Just worry about taking massive action….