Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Surrendering to Recovery When You’re Used to Being in Control


Recovering from addiction depends on admitting and accepting that the way you have been doing things isn’t working. Chances are if you could have stopped drinking and drugging long term on your own, you would have. It’s time to take a new approach, and this new approach depends on surrender.

The idea of surrendering to recovery can be challenging when you’re used to being in control. This is especially true for those in a leadership role at work such as executives or other business professionals.  As a business leader, you may be typically in charge. It goes against your nature to ask for help, rely on the guidance of others and admit that alcohol or drugs may be something that you can’t conquer by yourself.


To recover from addiction means you have to give up being in control. You have to give control to someone or something else. When you have successfully navigated other areas of your life, it’s pretty hard to admit or accept that you need to let go of being in control in order to rise above challenges with addiction.

Even though you have proven your ability to be in charge of most of your life, somehow your efforts to control addictive behavior have failed up to now. You are driven by an inner compulsion to turn to alcohol or drugs when you are overwhelmed, stressed, sad or even excited. Even though you may have promised your family and friends that you won’t repeat self-destructive, embarrassing behavior, somehow you keep doing things you don’t mean to do. You use drugs when you promised you wouldn’t. You got horribly drunk when you promised you would only have one or two.

The heart of recovery depends on a willingness to recognize that you can’t control this one area of your life.  Addiction is rarely if ever overcome by sheer willpower.  You have to find a better way, and it starts with admitting that you can’t do this one thing your way. Doing it your way has repeatedly gotten you into trouble, and it will continue to do just that if you don’t trust others to show you the way.


 If you ask most alcoholics or addicts why they continually return to abusing alcohol or other substances, they probably have absolutely no idea. An alcoholic or addict is physically and psychologically dependent on a chemical to alter his or her mood. He or she is compelled to continue to use the substance even when there are serious or even devastating consequences, including loss of job, family, financial stability or reputation.

If you are compelled to use alcohol or drugs and can’t seem to stop yourself no matter what you do, you are not a bad person. You are not morally weak or deliberately lying to your loved ones. You are simply addicted. Active addiction often involves struggling to control your drinking or drug use, and this takes many forms. You may try to ration how many drinks you have, or only drink on certain days. You may limit yourself to beer and avoid hard liquor.  You try desperately to enjoy mind-altering chemicals without suffering any consequences. But eventually you drink more than you meant to. You cause a public scene. You might be arrested for DUI or drug possession. But you keep trying to stay in control. You desperately want to believe you can.


Those in recovery support groups and addiction recovery professionals can offer you a solution. They can show you how to overcome the compulsion to keep using alcohol and drugs, but the first thing you will have to do is turn over the control of your addiction. You will have to come to terms with the fact that you are powerless over alcohol or other substances. You will have to surrender to win. You have to trust that others can give you advice and direction that will help you to begin to lead a life free of dependence on mood-altering chemicals.

As long as you continue trying to control your drinking or drug abuse, you are only postponing the inevitable. There will come a day that you lose control, and something will happen that you didn’t mean to happen. When you have had enough misery and chaos in your life, you will be ready to surrender.

While it may feel like a blow to your ego at first, surrender is the first step on the path to freedom. Surrendering is not a sign of failure. Instead it is the path to tapping into your greatest strength. By turning over the control of your addiction recovery, you are giving yourself the opportunity to regain control over the rest of your life.



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