Mental health expert: Surrender is essential to conquering addiction

Understanding the concept of surrender as it relates to recovery from addiction is critical for lasting sobriety. Without personally experiencing what it means to surrender, the one who struggles with an addiction is likely to be stuck in the constant cycle of relapse episodes. 

At first glance the concept of surrender doesn’t seem to make sense. It seems like everything we do in order to succeed in the world is based on the concept of the fight. We are told that if things aren’t working out the way we want them to, all we need to do is to work harder or to have more faith. This works very well with many things, but it is not very effective when dealing with addiction issues. Anyone who has struggled with addictions has made numerous commitments to work harder but with little impact in the long run. Allow me to explain.

We have two brains that work in concert with each other. The relationship between these two parts of the brain will determine the quality of life. 

The higher functioning part of our brain is called the neocortex, and more specifically the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that attempts to make sense of our experiences in the world. It is rational, logical and moral. This is the part of the brain that our conscience (and, I believe, the Holy Ghost) works through. 

The more primitive part of our brain is called the limbic system. This is the part that functions on the premise of survival by avoiding things that are painful and seeking those things that are pleasurable. It is in this part of the brain that addictions first develop. When the scriptures teach us that “the natural man is an enemy to God,” I believe this is the part of the brain it is describing. The limbic system is only instinct. Our morals and values do not exist there, but we must understand that this part of the human brain has a tremendous influence on our behavior.

We must also understand that pornography addiction is a chemical addiction. The human brain/body has a built in pharmacy made up of tiny chemicals called neurotransmitters. This is just how the human brain/body works and essential for our mortal experience. It is only through this body that we can experience the fullness of joy, or conversely the ultimate slavery and misery. One chemical of interest is called dopamine—known as the pleasure chemical, it leads one by nature (the natural man) to seek more of it. 

A recent article by Harvard Health Publications states, “The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. . . . The likelihood that the use of a drug or participation in a rewarding activity will lead to addiction is directly linked to the speed with which is promotes dopamine release, the intensity of that release, and the reliability of that release. . . . In nature, rewards usually come only with time and effort.”

We must understand that addictive drugs or behaviors provide a shortcut to this natural process by flooding the brain with dopamine and other neurotransmitters with a speed and intensity that we simply have a difficult time managing. Viewing pornography produces a burst of dopamine in the brain up to ten times the normal amount that a person normally gets. Our brains have no simple way to defend against this. That is why we must become ever more educated and aware on what we will subject ourselves to with the media. 

Our eyes are huge resources for information about our environment. The human eye trumps all of our other senses. This is why pornography is such a difficult thing to deal with. What ever we take in with our eyes has an impact on the body instantly because of the chemical reaction that begins in our brain and then spreads throughout the body. 

It’s impossible in our present world to shield our eyes from all things, but we can make the choice as to what we will willingly give our attention to. If a person has not already pre-planned how he/she will respond to environmental factors, it will likely be too late when the situation arises. The things that are available are just too powerful to mess with. Surfing the web is like letting a little child ride their bike on the freeway, or as a client of mine once remarked, “Life is a lot like going on an Easter egg hunt in a mine field.” 

To become powerful one must learn to become what is called a “peaceful warrior,” and this is where the concept of surrender comes into play. To understand the depths of addiction, one must understand that at the very core of the limbic system is the belief that such behavior is essential for survival. This is why fighting the addiction with willpower alone will not work in the long run. In essence, one begins to fight the very part of themselves that has linked survival needs with the addictive behavior. This is where the paradox of surrender comes in.

Surrender is a type of conversion experience that needs to be re-experienced daily—even multiple times a day, if necessary. It is completely accepting the fact that you cannot get better without the Lord’s help or without the help of others that the Lord has put in place to help you. It is also the complete acceptance that you cannot change the fact that you will experience temptations from time to time. The temptations are not the issue—it is what you do with them. The adversary fools many into thinking they are strong enough to deal with some things, or that it is necessary to know what others are taking about when it comes to pornography. The apostle Paul warns, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Surrender means turning and walking away without a fight, but at the same time without becoming a captive of your enemy. 
For more information on recovery from pornography addiction, visit Innergold.com.

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This article is sponsored by Innergold.com.
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