"I wouldn't give in for nothin,'" says James J. "I'd told myself I'd die before I'd surrender to anything. But alcohol kicked my ass. I lost everything: my house, my wife, my kids and, finally, my freedom. I'll never legally drive an automobile again, at least not in Virginia. It was time to give up the fight. I was whipped."

Mirriam-Webster defines surrender simply as the cessation of resistance, or the abandonment of oneself entirely to a powerful emotion or influence. "What I didn't understand," James continues, "is that I'd long ago surrendered. Alcohol owned me. It controlled me. It determined my mood, my tastes, my associations, my activities...everything. I had no freedom from it. Then, it ruined my life. I had to surrender to that fact. Then, I had a chance, a chance to remake that life."

Alcohol treatment centers find themselves face-to-face with people like James every day. They see admission of their own powerlessness over alcohol, of the chaos of their lives, as an admission of failure rather than simple fact. James goes on: "I finally realized that admitting my powerlessness over alcohol wasn't as hard as admitting the unmanageability of my life, something I was only able to do once I'd lost everything. The first step of my program requires me to do both. Only then was I able to move forward."

Moving forward into a new life requires not just surrender to the reality of the disease, but acceptance of its consequences, as well. "I had to spend a year in jail," says James. "The judge said he wanted me to have time to think about things and how I'd change my life when I got out. I discovered they had AA meetings in jail, something that astounded me. Guys from outside the jail were bringing the meetings in. And they weren't getting anything for their trouble. They just did it. That's where I learned the true meaning of the first step. I also learned I had to know more about my disease. So when I got out of jail, I entered treatment. I don't suppose rehab centers in Virginia are any different than rehab centers in Texas, rehab centers in Ohio or anywhere else; they all teach you about the disease. That's what I needed: to understand. I needed to understand the best weapon I had was the willingness to surrender. So I won.

Twelve Palms Recovery Center, a unique example of compassionate alcohol treatment centers, focuses their efforts on the individual. They also emphasize the importance of the 12-step model by not only encouraging AA attendance, but hosting AA meetings, as well. For additional information call 866-331-6779 any time, 24 hours a day.

Author's Bio: 

Mark R. Merrill is a veteran of twenty-three years in alcohol recovery. He has worked as a volunteer in Multnomah County and Washington County, Oregon "In Jail Intervention Programs," as well as written extensively on the issue of alcohol and drug recovery.