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In the field of addiction, the concept of recovery versus abstinence is one of extreme importance when it comes to quality of life.

Abstinence is simply not taking a particular drug or doing a specific activity. For example, an alcoholic who does not drink alcohol is abstaining from his or her drug of choice. A gambler who does not go to the casino is abstaining from gambling. When the addict continues to live the same lifestyle, it is called being ¨"a dry drunk" or "white knuckling it." Imagine a person sitting in a chair holding tight to the arms in order to not leap up and engage in the addictive behavior. His or her knuckles are white with the stress of trying to maintain control. An addict in abstinence is simply trying to control his or her addiction and the bottom line is that what makes an addict is the inability to control the addiction, or indeed anything outside oneself.

Steps One through Three in the Twelve Steps address the concept of powerlessness in addiction and the need to give up control to a power greater than oneself ´¨a higher power. The Serenity Prayer simplifies this concept "God Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference." Basically, this means that we cannot control anything except our own thoughts, which lead to our feelings and behavior. It is our mental approach to any situation that leads to how we feel and then behave concerning it. Albert Ellis developed this concept with his Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which is a staple in the field of psychotherapy. He refers to those thoughts that lead to unwelcome or dysfunctional thinking as "irrational" and urges us to change the irrational thoughts to rational ones. The Twelve Step approach simplifies this with the concept of "Giving It to God." When we come across a situation that we cannot handle, that frustrates or overwhelms us, we can give it to God.

Many people have difficulty accepting this. They think of "God" as associated with religion, or they are unwilling to give up their perceived sense of personal power. They continue to "white knuckle it"

and so remain in addiction rather than recovery. And make no mistake - addiction is that state of not being in recovery, which is why we can all be in addiction at various times of the day or week or year, regardless of whether or not we are using drugs, alcohol, or some other identifiably addictive behavior.

So what is recovery? It is that approach to life that allows us to live in the present, to fully enjoy this moment, to fully Connect with others. It is that state of being when we are not seeking escape from our inner pain - the pain of loneliness, rejection, inadequacy, or imperfection. Recovery is accepting that we cannot control anything outside of ourselves, which means that we are not grabbing drugs or food or porn or work or anything else that provides the illusion of pleasure and release from pain. Recovery is when we are living in a state of peace, not fear. It is when we have the wisdom to know the difference between external and internal control. It is when we are able to give to God, or whatever we call our Higher Power, those things we cannot control, rather than give in to inadequacy and imperfection when we cannot control something that is outside of ourselves.

What does "Giving It to God" really mean? What happens when we give our problems to our Higher Power? Consider the concept of Connection.

We are all Connected through our spiritual energy, we just don´t always realize it. Through this Connection, the total is greater than the sum of the parts, and this is God. We are all part of God and God is greater than all of us combined. Think of God like a giant living computer, accessing all thoughts and feelings and knowledge in every moment. When we, as individuals, are unable to cope with something, all we have to do is turn it over to God and that vast, spiritual network will instantaneously know how best to deal with it. We can trust that whatever the outcome, it will be perfect. All we need to do is let go and feel the strength and comfort that is right there whenever we tap into it.

Try this exercise: Grab on to something with both fists and squeeze as tightly as you can - until your knuckles are white! As you are doing this, think about something you have been unable to control. It can be the cake you don´t want to eat, the co-worker you can´t stand, the traffic that prevents you from getting where you want to go, or whatever else comes to mind. Feel the tension in your body, feel your impotence, notice how you lose your awareness of everything around you. Now release your fists and open your hands wide. Spread your arms outwards, breathe deeply, and say "God, take this, I´m giving this to you, I´m letting it go." Now what are you noticing? How did your feelings shift?

You just experienced the paradox of giving up control to get control.

YOU changed your feelings! Nothing external changed, only your thoughts. It is your choice to live in addiction or live in recovery.

Give It to God and Connect!

Be In Light