One of the concepts that I want to make sure that you understand today is this:
The right choice for addiction treatment is to simply pick up the phone and make it happen. That’s it. Just get yourself to rehab and stop sweating the details.
The details will take care of themselves once you check into a rehab facility. So my hope for you is that you can simply break through your denial, pick up the phone, and make it happen. Get yourself to treatment and do what you need to do in order to turn your life around.
I know that a lot of people are worried about what treatment center they should go to, or where they should attend counseling or therapy at, or whether AA meetings fit with their religious views or not.
Honestly, none of those details are that relevant when you back up and take a look at what is really important in terms of getting clean and sober.
You need to surrender completely to the process of recovery. In order to surrender completely you must let go of the need to control everything. The typical addict or alcoholic is struggling to control every little thing in their life because they have to try to control their drug or alcohol intake in order to maintain some degree of safety. So they fight and they struggle for control and this tends to carry over into the recovery process.
If you are still struggling for control then it likely means that you are still in denial. The only way to move forward in a meaningful way is to let go completely and allow yourself to be guided in recovery. This means that you take a huge leap of faith and you allow yourself to trust other people.
We need to trust other people in recovery who will then tell us how to avoid using drugs and alcohol. We need to trust professionals in the world of addiction treatment who will tell us how to find recovery and work a real program in our lives. We need to trust a sponsor in a recovery program who can show us how they were able to get and remain clean and sober. Without this level of trust in other people we are never going to be able to overcome our substance abuse problems.
Our own addiction is proof that we do not have the information that we need to be able to remain clean and sober while being happy. We are struggling with addiction and that proves that we do now know how to live a sober and happy life.
Other people know how to do this. Other addicts and alcoholics have figured out how to live a clean and sober life while maintaining serenity and happiness. Other people in recovery have figured out how to build a life that is free and joyous at times.
If we want what those other people have figured out then we need to listen to them. We are not just going to muscle our way into happiness and freedom by trying to exert more control over things. That never worked for us in the past and it is not going to suddenly start working if we try to “go it alone” in our recovery journey. We need other people in order to recover. We need their support and we need their knowledge and experience.
Making good choices in early recovery is surprisingly simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy to do. In fact, it is quite difficult to do, because that means you have to surrender completely, let go absolutely, and allow yourself to be guided by other people. That is a very scary proposition for most people.
Truly, what needs to happen in early recovery is this: You must make an agreement with yourself that you are not in control any longer, that you will not make any of your own decisions any longer, and that you will only live your life according to the advice of other people. You must make a pact with yourself that you will do what you are told rather than to chase after your own ideas and whims.
This is essentially what the third step in AA and NA is instructing you to do: To remove self will, to stop living by your own selfish whims and desires, and to live by the advice of others instead. You must remove your own self will from the equation so that you can give yourself a chance to start to recover.
Why is this necessary? Because every alcoholic and every drug addict will–if left to their own devices–sabotage their own recovery and end up relapsing. Every time.
That isn’t weird, that is perfectly normal for an addict or an alcoholic to sabotage their own self and end up relapsing. That is to be expected; that is what addicts do. You should expect for this to happen if the person is not actively working a recovery program, deliberately making an agreement with themselves to avoid self will.
What is abnormal, what is unique and rare, what is special and should actually be celebrated–is when the addict or alcoholic is able to let go completely, to ask for help humbly, and to simply go check into rehab and start following directions. This is the solution, this is how real recovery happens, and this is the ideal that everyone should be striving for.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in any way, the real key to happiness is in surrender. The real key is in letting go of that need for control. The real solution is to just pick up the phone, call a rehab, and get something started.
I can remember when I was still struggling with denial and addiction, and I was so nervous and worried about what exactly inpatient treatment would consist of. I was terrified of the idea that I would go into rehab and they would somehow “brainwash me” into not wanting drugs or alcohol any more. I wondered to myself: “How in the world are they going to do that to me?”
What I did not realize was that they do not, in fact, try to brainwash you at all. What they do is provide the solution, but the addict or alcoholic has to actually want that solution. I did not understand this at the time because I was still in the phase of my addiction where I wanted to get drunk and high all the time, I believed that the only way I could be happy was to be intoxicated, and I thought that being clean and sober would be a horrible punishment. I was stuck in denial and therefore my reaction to treatment was fear based.
Later on I became so miserable in my addiction that the fear suddenly dropped away. I was no longer afraid of sobriety because I was honestly afraid that I was going to die from my addiction. The fear of sobriety no longer kept me stuck, and I was able to surrender and ask for help. I went into rehab as if I were starting some sort of mystical journey in which everything was new and foreign to me. Really it should not have been so dramatic to walk into a rehab facility and be clean and sober but at the time I felt like I was a pioneer who was breaking new ground in the world, exploring uncharted territory.
You, too, can break new ground in your life and explore a whole new world of recovery, where everything seems new and unique again. All you have to do is surrender to a new solution, surrender to a recovery program, surrender to the fact that you need other people to tell you how to live for a while. Ask for help, call a rehab, and get your life back on track. Good luck!