Time to make a decision. Time to quit drinking for good and get your life back.
You may be scared to make such a decision. You may be wondering how you can take advice from others and still shape your own life in recovery.
I am here to tell you that it is possible, that you can absolutely have the life that you want, that you dream about, that you wish for.
But you do have to take action.
Addiction and recovery are each like a study in inertia. If you are stuck in the cycle of addiction, then you will tend to stay stuck in that cycle unless you take drastic action. Likewise, if you have been living clean and sober in recovery for several years, it will take a drastic turn of events for you to relapse back to your drug of choice.
So the question becomes:
“How do you overcome the inertia of addiction and find this new life?”
“How do you break out of the cycle of addiction to begin with?”
It is easy for someone who is not an addict or an alcoholic to pay lip service to the idea: “Just quit drinking or drugging and start going to support groups or whatever!”
But for those who are actually stuck in the trap of addiction, the solution is never that simple. This is why people struggle for years or even decades with addiction before they end up quitting. Some people never quit, they struggle their entire lives, and never find a way out.
So do not underestimate this trap. Do not underestimate the cycle of addiction and the power that it has to keep people trapped.
It is a real problem and it deserves full consideration. What follows is the process of surrender and recovery that outlines how to overcome your addiction and commit fully to recovery.
Believe that a new life is possible for yourself
This is not entirely necessary at the moment of surrender, but rather it becomes more real as you stay clean and sober in recovery.
People who are trapped in addiction do not believe that any kind of “normal life” and happiness are available to themselves. They do not really believe that they can achieve that ideal any more, because they have been living as an addict for so long.
So it is not so much that the addict will get the idea that they can be “normal” or happy again without drugs or alcohol. They will probably not believe it to be possible while they are still using their drug of choice. This is because they will be miserable even while self medicating, and of course when they take the drugs away they are even more miserable than before. So naturally the addict expects that misery to continue if they were to stay clean and sober. They are hopeless, they see no possibility for recovery. They actually do not even believe that it is possible for themselves.
This is not really what has to be overcome necessarily. It will be overcome, in time, if the addict surrenders and gives themselves to the process of recovery. But at the point of surrender, while they are still trapped in addiction, it is unlikely that the addict will be able to really believe in this new life, or that it is possible for them.
At the most they need to have a shred of hope. Just a tiny glimmer of hope. That is all that is necessary in order to move forward with recovery.
Even if the addict does not believe that they can get clean and sober and be happy, joyous, and free–they have to at least have a tiny bit of hope that things could possibly change somehow. That they could maybe ask for help, seek help, go to rehab, get detoxed, that somehow things might be different.
They will still be skeptical of the idea that they can be truly happy while sober. They will likely not believe this when they are still using their drug of choice. But this does not mean that they cannot have hope for change, or that they cannot take action in a new direction.
So really all they need to do is grab on to a shred of hope. This is enough to get started.
Overcome your feelings of being trapped and hopeless
Again, just like belief in a new life, the addict is probably not going to be able to overcome the feelings of hopelessness when they are wrestling with surrender. What they need to do is simple: they must let go of everything.
But they keep hanging on to stuff, they keep hanging on to their addiction, they keep hanging on to their need to self medicate and the way that they use their drug of choice to chase their own happiness.
The addict is trapped in a cycle whereby they attempt to become happy by using their drug of choice. This is how they rely on their happiness, this is how they self medicate. They used to have some sort of “normal life” whereby they might be happy or content with things not involving drugs. But now they rely exclusively on their drug of choice in order to make themselves happy. The trap is that their drug of choice “promised them” that they could be happy whenever they wanted. So they started to use their drug to become happy and then eventually they relied on the drug entirely in order to be happy.
It got to the point where normal activity that used to make them happy would really only make them happy IF they were using their drug of choice. So going to the movies with friends is only fun now if they are using their drug of choice along with it. They have come to rely on the drug for their happiness, and without it, they are miserable.
So it is natural for the alcoholic to be completely hopeless when they get near the point of surrender, because they have experienced what happens when they remove their drug of choice. They become miserable due to detox and withdrawal from the drug. Of course this is going to happen with any alcoholic in the short run–when they first stop using alcohol they are going to go through a rough patch and be pretty miserable for a few days.
But the addict extends these feelings to encompass “the entire rest of their life.” So the alcoholic believes that when they quit using their drug of choice for a day or two, that the level of misery that they experience during detox is going to extend out for the rest of their life if they remain clean and sober.
So they convince themselves that they could never go without their drug of choice, because they would be so miserable. They convince themselves that they can only be happy if they are self medicating with their drug of choice.
The way to overcome these feelings of being trapped and feeling hopeless in addiction is to surrender fully to the disease. This is not really an action that you take, instead, it is a letting go of something. Instead of taking action and deciding “I am going to overcome these feelings of being hopeless!” you have to instead let go of something inside of you. It is not an action so much. Instead, you are ceasing. You are stopping. You are letting go.
And what are you letting go of? What are you releasing? What is this process of surrender?
It is best described by saying that you let go of EVERYTHING. But of course this is not really accurate because you hang on to a shred of hope, you hang on to just a shred of a will to live. But really you can come close to the concept if you just imagine a total and complete surrender of everything.
The most important part of this is that you let go of these two things:
1) Your struggle to stay happy and self medicated with your drug of choice.
2) Your blocks to recovery.
The first one is the most important. Every alcoholic is locked in a struggle to stay happy and self medicated. They come to rely on their drug of choice in order to be happy, and of course they are on a hamster wheel that never provides any relief. In trying to be happy by self medicating they are actually miserable 99 percent of the time, and every once in a while they get really lit up with their drug of choice and enjoy themselves. Quite a rare moment though, but they cling to the memory of the good times, and ignore the bad times.
This is what must be let go. This struggle, this chasing of the peak experiences on drugs or alcohol. The addict has to let go of this, to say “I am done trying to chase my happiness with drugs.” This must be given up fully and let go.
We say that you have to let go of “everything” because this struggle to self medicate is the addict’s whole world. To the typical addict, this struggle to be happy on drugs is pretty much “everything.” That is what they have lived for in active addiction. That is what they have set up their life to revolve around.
So when we say that the addict must surrender and let go of everything, this struggle to be happy and self medicate is half of what we are talking about. The other half of “everything” is the excuses and the blocks to recovery.
Let me give you an example of one of these “blocks” to recovery.
I personally had been to rehab twice before in my life and I knew what the basic drill was. Twelve step programs were the norm and I fully realized that nearly any attempt that I made at getting help with my addiction was going to lead me to twelve step meetings.
The only trouble was that I had some level of social anxiety, and I was terrified of these meetings. I had exposure to them while in previous treatments, and I was terrified of them. Period.
So this was a huge block to my recovery process. I said things like “I would rather die of drinking than have to go through another 12 step meeting.” And I sort of meant it.
The problem was that I was scared.
So how did I get over this problem? How did I eventually surrender and agree to go to treatment, where they basically force you to attend 12 step meetings?
I got miserable enough. That is really the whole secret right there. I simply got miserable enough to the point where I did not care about this fear of meetings, I was still afraid of them, but I was so miserable and I had placed such a low value on my own life and my own existence at this point that I was able to let go of everything. They refer to this as “hitting bottom.”
I was sick and tired and so I let go of everything, including both my struggle to stay “happy” and medicated, but also to these blocks and fears that kept me from pursuing sobriety. I was able to let go of all of it because I had achieved such a deep level of misery.
What do you have to lose by surrendering to your disease? Are you really happy now?
“What do I have to lose by giving recovery a chance?”
“What do I have to lose by getting clean and sober? By stopping the endless chase for happiness by using my drug of choice?”
“What if I could go through detox and realize that I really can be happy and content without using and chasing that next high all the time?”
Start by measuring your current level of happiness. Presumably you are still using your drug of choice on a regular basis.
I would strongly recommend that you journal. Write down your feelings once each day. It matters very little what time you do this or where it happens or any of those details. Just write down your feelings, how happy or miserable you are lately, and make a record of it each day.
Keep doing this. Measure your happiness. The goal is to look back and see how much fun and happiness you are really getting out of your drug of choice.
This is normally a very eye-opening experiment for most addicts. They are stuck in denial and so they cling to their best memories of happiness in using their drug of choice. But the truth is that they are miserable almost all of the time.
Addiction is a trap. You have a peak experience with your drug of choice, so that is your baseline for “true happiness.” But then you have lots of experiences that do not quite measure up to that level, and you are always chasing after that perfect high. You are never really satisfied with your daily buzz. It simply becomes maintenance, and what used to be a “peak experience” and a certain level of happiness for you now becomes the same old, same old. You get high every single day and so what used to be “happy” has now just become your “normal.”
So start measuring. You are using your drug of choice every day (which may be alcohol) and you are claiming that this is what you need in order to be happy with your life, right? Without your drug of choice you would be miserable, right?
Well, test those assumptions. Start measuring. Get a written journal and start writing down your feelings at least once a day. Do this for a few months and then look back and read through the journal. Count up the number of days in which you were truly “happy.”
If you follow through with this exercise you are in for a shocking discovery. Addicts and alcoholics fool themselves while they chase after happiness, and it turns out they are miserable about 99 percent of the time. They chase the illusion of happiness by becoming a slave to the memory of when they had fun on their drug of choice. But they almost never actually have fun on their drug of choice anymore.
Later on after you have surrendered, you can test the other side of this assumption: that you will be totally miserable in recovery because you will not be able to self medicate with your drug of choice. Of course you will find this assumption to be wrong too, because every addict who learns how to live clean and sober in recovery will eventually find peace and contentment without having to self medicate all the time. It takes some time though and they will not find this contentment after 3 days sober, so the typical addict stays stuck in the mindset that they can never be happy again without self medicating.
Test your assumptions. Are you really happy in addiction? Start measuring.
What it means to surrender and fully commit to recovery
The first part of surrender is where you let go of everything. You let go of the struggle to stay happy and self medicated on drugs, and then you also let go of all of your blocks and excuses about recovery.
The next part of the surrender process is where you agree to get help, you agree to take action, you agree to ask for guidance.
Your best ideas about living have led you into chaos and addiction. Your best effort at life got you all screwed up and dependent on drugs or alcohol, which has only led you into misery. You have fully accepted now that you are miserable due to your addiction, and that your moments of “happiness” while self medicating are very few and far between.
Once you have accepted that you are completely miserable in your addiction and that there might possibly be a better way, you have to also concede that you do not have any great ideas about how to figure out that better way yourself.
You have tried to figure out a better way while struggling with your addiction. It never worked. All of your efforts to overcome addiction have failed. Everything that you did in order to try to cure or fix your addiction resulted in failure.
You cannot solve your own problem.
You must accept this fully, that you cannot design your own recovery solution. You have tried to do so for years and it has been a failure.
So, you ask for help. You agree to professional treatment services. Let the experts help you and give you guidance and direction. Find a rehab and start asking questions, start seeking help.
How to swear off drugs and alcohol forever without setting yourself up for failure
We have all probably sworn off drugs and alcohol forever, only to go right back to them again. This is just how addiction works.
The way to make it stick is to follow up your promise with real action. The sequence might look like this:
1) Swear off the drugs and alcohol: “I will not use drugs or alcohol today no matter what, period. This is the most important truth in my life, my highest priority, my biggest and most important objective.” Swear them off and resolve to remain abstinent.
2) Ask for help on remaining clean and sober. Seek advice, then take that advice and put it into real action. Follow through with positive action.
That is the full process of surrender. You have to let go of everything, then ask for help, then take direction.
This is the path to a new life in recovery.
Take action today. Call us now to get help: (866) 577-1012.