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What Does Alcoholics Anonymous Mean with the Advice 'Surrender to Win'?

Those caught up in the insanity of alcoholism are like boxers being badly beaten in the ring. Their opponent keeps knocking them to the mat, but the alcoholic continues to get back up to continue the fight. There is no way this boxer is going to win the fight, and staying in the ring will only mean more pain, so why does this person not just stay down? Being an alcoholic is being in this exact same position; the only viable option is to stay down and give up the battle against alcohol - this is what it means to 'surrender to win'.

Why Do Alcoholics Need to Surrender?

As alcoholics become more aware of their situation, they are likely to try many strategies to bring their drinking under control. These could include:

  • only drinking in the evenings
  • not drinking on certain days
  • only drinking beer
  • only drinking after a meal
  • limiting the number of drinks
  • only drinking in company
  • never drinking at home
  • only drinking at weekends
  • having soft drinks in between alcoholic ones.

These strategies may lead to some initial improvement, but the likelihood is that if the person is an alcoholic then he or she would not be able to keep this up. Eventually something will happen to cause the person to break the new rule, making it business as usual soon after. The problem with all of these strategies is that they involve a battle with the addiction - an attempt to bring it under control - but this is the one thing that an alcoholic can never do. The only realistic option is to bow out of the fight by choosing permanent abstinence.

How to Surrender to Recovery from Addiction

The word 'surrender' has many negative connotations because it means you have been defeated; however, in this case it is a very positive thing to do. If you were in a fight against a trained solider with a machine gun with you only using your bare hands, there would be no shame in bowing out of this fight because you know there would be no way for you to win. The same is true in your battle with alcoholism - as long as you keep fighting, you will suffer greatly and, eventually, you will lose the battle completely.

People who are defeated will feel humbled, and this is the perfect way to approach sobriety. It means that you are now willing to do whatever it takes to get your life back on track, you no longer hold onto any hope that you would ever be able to drink like a 'normal person'. This humility also means that you do not approach recovery with a list of demands about what must happen for you to be willing to build a sober life. You know you have no other choice, so you are happy for any solution that would work and you do not have unrealistic expectations for early recovery.

How Can You Win if You Surrender?

Winning is usually viewed as the opposite of surrender, so how can you surrender to win? This is true because by giving up alcohol, your life will become much better. Ending the physical addiction is only really the first step, but it will mean significant improvements in your life. If you continue with your journey into sobriety, it can eventually lead you to serenity. This is the peace of mind that you were probably looking for when you first started abusing alcohol. Therefore, by surrendering, you can obtain that thing you always wanted.

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