The Concept of Surrender to Addiction – is it a Process or...

The Concept of Surrender to Addiction – is it a Process or an Event?


Surrender is arguably a process – though to me, it felt like an event. This is the only process in recovery that I take issue with. Yes, I can look back and see that some stuff led up to my eventual “surrender” to the disease of addiction, and my eventual asking for help. But there really wasn’t a logical progression of things that stands out as strong evidence for when I finally threw in the towel. There was no great disaster in my life, I didn’t lose my job, or my wife, or anything like that. So I take issue with the idea that surrender to the disease might be a process, because for me, it really was an event….one that was beyond my control.

Processes can be sped up, right? I could not “speed up” the process of my surrender to addiction….it never was an option for me. I suppose I tried to speed it up by attending treatment a few times in the past, but those efforts failed, and I ultimately think it is impossible to speed up surrender because at the time, I did not want to surrender. How can you force yourself to want something? If you can, then you must have wanted it to begin with! It’s a bit of a paradox. Deep down, we know when we are living a screwed up life in addiction, but we are powerless to stop ourselves. This is the trap of addiction. If it wasn’t, then addiction would not be a problem.

Speeding up the process of surrender is counter-intuitive

Although I could not speed up the process of surrender for myself, I believe that we can influence each other in this way. In other words, if you are enabling a struggling drug addict or alcoholic, then putting a stop to that enabling behavior might speed up the process of their surrender.

This is counter-intuitive. It seems like if we help someone or give them assistance, that it will push them closer to getting clean and sober. But often our “helpful” assistance is actually enabling behavior, so it only delays the process of surrender further. You can read more about how to avoid enabling behaviors right here.

Likewise, the idea of speeding up the process of surrender is counter-intuitive to the struggling addict themselves. For example, you would think that making an effort to cut down on drinking or drug use would evidence of incremental progress towards eventually surrendering completely to the disease and finally entering recovery. But my belief is that any such action actually further delays surrender, because the “cutting back” actually helps the addict to “maintain” for a while, only to come back and hit it harder later on (perpetuating the cycle).

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Remember that addicts and alcoholics suffer from the delusion that “this time it will be different.” We tend to reason that if we can lay off the sauce for a few days, then we might be able to somehow control our drinking in the future.

So what can be done to initiate surrender?

It’s not so much what can be done, it’s what needs to stop. Stop enabling addicts or making excuses for them or helping them avoid consequences. If you happen to be the struggling addict or alcoholic, take a look at some ways in which you might be able to motivate yourself to stop drinking or drugging.


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