Surrender is defined as giving oneself over to something. When we think about this term in the context of active addiction, it’s clear that addiction forces us to surrender; when addiction is severe, we surrender our thoughts, our actions, our relationships, our personal fulfillment, our dreams and our successes. A common thought is that addiction “hijacks” the brain – forcing us to surrender. When substances become so entrenched in our daily lives and in our mind, body and spirit that we no longer have control over our use, we’re essentially surrendering ourselves. We don’t recognize it at the time, but we are.
12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), mention surrendering as a key step to recovery. Several of the steps, in fact – Steps 3 through 7, to be exact – are all based on the premise of surrender. A few years ago, one writer shared her point of view on surrendering in recovery. She explained to The Fix that surrendering is about letting go of the “ego” – the part of us that wants to be consumed in ourselves, our wants, our needs, our desires, our everything. When we surrender in recovery, we let that need for control go.
The writer from The Fix noted the late scientific work of Dr. Harry Tiebout, a psychiatrist who promoted the work of 12-Step programs to the community at large. It was said that Dr. Tiebout previously quoted,
“Surrender is an unconscious event, not willed by the patient even if he or she should desire to do so. It can occur only when an individual with certain traits in his or her unconscious mind becomes involved in a set of circumstances.”
For those struggling with active addiction, the choice to surrender to God, or another Higher Power, may come from “rock bottom” as many call it – from losing a job, from losing an important relationship, from getting involved in legal trouble – to something else. The point is that in order to overcome the incredible power of this disease, we must surrender ourselves to something greater in order to recover from it.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.