Substance Addiction: Learning to Give Up Control
Control gives off the illusion of having a life that’s perfectly put together. Some use control to hide what is going on in their lives. For example, a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) tries to deceive friends and family to disguise what they can’t control.
Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) says, “Decide to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Regardless of whether a person is an alcoholic or drug user, the idea of turning themselves over to a higher power is difficult for some. All do not share the concept of God, or a general god, maybe because a person has varying feelings about religion and spirituality. Step 3 isn’t a call to believe in a god, rather an acceptance.
The Steps to Step 3
When people recognize they have a substance abuse problem, they may seek help by attending AA or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Some enter a detox program followed by inpatient or outpatient treatment.
Substance addiction treatment and a 12-Step program ask a person to admit a problem they can’t control. Once people realize they have no control over their substance abuse, they seek a higher power for a healthier life. Step 3 asks a person to allow the higher power to guide them.
A higher power can take shape as anything a person finds comforting, hopeful, or wants to become. The underlying message of Step 3 is to let go of control and discover something outside of themselves. Some can think of a higher power as their love from their significant other, children, or family. The decision to quit a substance recognizes a higher power is love. Other forms of a higher power can include:
- a celebrity they admire — sometimes a person admires a star that is in recovery
- achieving a goal
- working towards being the person they envision
- finding peace in activities like yoga, running, surfing, painting, and writing
Furthermore, a person doesn’t have to be an active member of AA or another 12-Step program to hand over control to something other than themselves. All a person needs is to admit they don’t have control over everything. How can they begin to let go of the tight grip they have on their lives?
A person can start by:
- Assessing their life and create a category in their mind of things they can’t control. For example, a person can’t control rush hour traffic; however, they can control how they react to the traffic and other drivers.
- Engaging in emotion-free conversation, therapy, or complete removal of a person that has consistently hurt them is a positive response.
- Learn how to replace harmful thoughts with healthy thoughts. So often, those with a SUD find themselves using a substance because they are masking their pain, anger, or anxiety. However, when they discover a healthy alternative to substance abuse, they begin to hand over their harmful emotions and the need to control them.
- A SUD creates conflict within the person. Control covers up their feelings of being unmanageable. For some, refusing help or advice is easier than taking steps to change their life. Step 3 asks the substance abuser to relinquish their control and open themselves to change from those who want to see them succeed.
Finding A Higher Power
Substance addiction treatment includes traditional forms of therapy—such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Dialectical Therapy, Family Therapy, and holistic therapies—where your client can explore the roots of their substance abuse, traumatic events, mental health disorders, and what helps them cope with harmful feelings.
Guiding your client through treatment as they learn beneficial practices and behaviors while letting go of the negative ones is when you can discover their personality without substances. Your client is also reconnecting with their inner self. A patient who is re-discovering themselves usually starts to experiment with the concept of finding their true self and their higher power. A way to support their exploration is to suggest trying the following activities:
- Join a group that has shared interests like running, art, or cooking classes.
- Get outside; walking, running, surfing, or being creative while outside boosts endorphins and opens up the mind and creativity.
- Mindfulness, consciousness, or another form of philosophy can introduce a person to new concepts.
There are several ways to support and guide your client to let go of their perceived control and accept their form of spirituality in their life. The first step is admitting they have a problem and entering a treatment program.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or another 12-Step program, asks a person to go through each step to achieve recovery. Whether a person is actively involved in a 12-Step program or is exploring their sobriety, the concept of a higher power doesn’t mean the power is religion-based. A higher power forms when a person discovers the spiritual ability to release control over what they can’t control themselves and merely accept what they can control in their life. Through their spirituality, yoga, mindfulness, art, family, or surfing, control is handed over, releasing them from harmful behaviors. Your client’s mental health disorder can co-occur with substance addiction. Consulting with Alta Centers about your client’s substance addiction treatment needs ensures your client will receive comprehensive care in a secluded setting. In the Los Angeles , Hollywood Hills, Alta Centers combines serene views with hope adjacent to the Hollywood sign. Contact us today by calling (888) 202-2583.