Characteristics of Sobriety: Surrender and Spirituality

How many achieve victory over addiction? I don’t think anyone truly knows. Most of us know people who have either died as a result of addiction, those who are still suffering, and those who are working through a rigorous, wonderful recovery program. This blog series will focus on the third group.

How many achieve victory over addiction? I don’t think anyone truly knows. Most of us know people who have either died as a result of addiction, those who are still suffering, and those who are working through a rigorous, wonderful recovery program. This blog series will focus on the third group.

The Johari window, an exercise for understanding one’s mental state, separates our psychological makeup into four distinct areas: Open, Blind, Secret (or “Hidden”) and Subconscious (sometimes called “Unknown”). In addiction patients, the Blind and Secret areas are too large. The process of recovery must reduce those areas, allowing the “Open” area to grow and strengthen.


The process of becoming more open revolves around both surrendering and accepting help. It takes a willingness to move forward and overcome addiction to fuel surrender, as well as an emotional acceptance of spiritual beliefs. The disease of addiction wants its victim to stay silent rather than ask for help, and wants that victim to balk at following the directions of others. Recovery requires conquering the disease and accepting help and direction from others.

One reason that we need spiritual beliefs in order to recover is to maintain humility. If we put recovering addicts and alcoholics on pedestals to honor their achievements, they may fail because they lose their sense of humility.  If you believe in a higher power or in god, you can develop an unconditional, faith-filled relationship through prayer and meditation that will help you lead a positive life. That life is unique to each individual.

In my own early recovery, I had issues with God and was afraid for my chances of long-term recovery. Thankfully, those who have achieved long-term sobriety can and often will help addicts, and one told me that GOD can stand for Good Orderly Direction. This simple shift in thought helped in my personal journey of spiritual surrender, and I developed a deeper relationship with God as a result.

My sponsor and I met recently and discussed spiritual warfare as it applies to recovery from addiction. On the negative side, the war is based in fear and perceived character defects or shortcomings. It’s common in recovery to see someone start to get well, only to reach the beginning of the spiritual battle. Too busy to continue the efforts that helped them start to turn their lives around, denial starts to creep back into the victim’s life. The fear and defects keep the alcoholic or addict from truly getting to a place of spiritual surrender, and he or she may never reach the promises of recovery.

The beauty of truly working the Twelve Steps is that the program addresses all areas of our lives and provides healing for each one. It allows us to be in a place of humility and spiritual surrender. If someone is steadfast during this process, it can create deep connections with God and with others in recovery. This fellowship helps protect the individual from losing the spiritual war and gives them the support they need for long-term sobriety.

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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