What is the key to beating drug addiction and chemical dependency? Unfortunately it is not that simple and there are in fact several keys.
Let’s take a closer look at the various methods of embracing chemical dependency recovery:
1) Surrender – this is probably the first and most important key, but the story does not stop here. If it did, recovery would be simple. But addiction recovery is actually fairly complex, no matter how badly people in traditional recovery programs want to claim that it is simple.
If you are struggling to control your drug or alcohol intake, or you are struggling to figure out how to keep using drugs and alcohol successfully, then you are not in a state of surrender. You fully surrender when you say “OK, I cannot use drugs and alcohol successfully. Show me how to live without them.” That is the level of surrender that is necessary to change your life in recovery. Without surrender, any changes that occur are very temporary.
2) Willingness – this of course goes hand in hand with surrender. If you have not surrendered fully to your disease then you are not going to be willing to do the things that you need to do in order to achieve recovery. For example, I was never willing to check into long term rehab, even though that is really what I needed for my specific situation in early recovery. At some point I had enough pain, fully surrendered, and became willing to move into a long term treatment center. I lived there for 20 months, and have not used drugs or alcohol since. It takes what it takes. If you are not willing, your recovery will fail.
3) Holistic growth – some will debate this point I am sure, but I have watched people in recovery die because they did not quit smoking, or learn to take care of themselves. Holistic growth means that you start considering your overall life and your overall health and you start making positive changes. In fact, if you could skip straight to this step in early recovery, it would be more than enough to keep you clean and sober all by itself. One positive change after another, holistic growth is the way to real long term recovery. The way to avoid complacency in long term sobriety is to keep growing and learning. You do this by exploring new avenues of growth in your life. Holistic health is the path that will take you there.
4) Helping others – in the 12 step programs of AA and NA, the twelfth step basically amounts to “help others in recovery.” This is almost as powerful as the idea of positive changes and holistic growth. If you can make a regular habit out of helping others in recovery, then your own sobriety will be that much stronger for it.
In fact, when you break it down, there are really only 2 major keys to recovery: surrender in early recovery, and positive action in long term recovery. Keep in mind that what got you sober will not keep you sober. You have to change and grow in recovery or you will eventually relapse. This can be observed in 12 step meetings where people stay stagnant in early recovery and don’t really “get into the steps” or push themselves to grow in any way. Early recovery is all about learning, as you have to relearn how to life your entire life without self medicating. In order to do this you have to surrender fully, stop fighting the disease, and go into “learning mode.” This is the state of surrender and willingness that is needed in early recovery.
Later on, you need to push yourself to grow and to help others in recovery. This is the successful state of long term growth in recovery.
Those are the keys.