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The Principles of the Twelve Steps: Surrender

Surrender - People participate in group therapy at the best California addiction treatment center

The Third Principle

We here at Ocean Recovery hope everyone had a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving holiday. As well all know, though, recovery doesn’t take vacations. It is with this in mind that we’d like to get back into our examination of the principles of the twelve steps. So far we’ve learned that we need to start getting honest with ourselves. We also know that people do recover and that this is enough to give us hope. That leads us to the third principle, a sticking point for many, including this author: surrender.

Honesty and Surrender

The problems that many of us have with surrender are often directly linked to the problems we had with getting honest with ourselves. If you’ll remember, we mentioned that the addict-mind will do anything it can to maintain the status quo. One difference, though, is that we have our big problem with honesty at the very beginning of recovery. That’s when we finally admit to ourselves we have a problem with drugs and alcohol. Paradoxically, it’s actually pretty easy to surrender once we do that. When we’re looking at the overwhelming wreckage of our lives after realizing with have a substance use problem, it’s not that hard to say, “You know what…I could really use some help here.” In our experience as a treatment team and as recovering addicts, the real problems with surrender come a bit later, during the “pink cloud” phase.

“I’ve Got This”

For those who don’t know, the “pink cloud” refers to that mindset in early recovery where the fog has lifted a bit. We’re past the period of intense withdrawal symptoms and are feeling much better physically. This is when recovering addicts and alcoholics start to want to take control back. It’s understandable. We felt so horrible for so long and, now that we’re feeling alive again, it’s easy to think, “Well, all I needed was that little push, that little bit of help in the beginning. I’ve got this.” Those of us with years of recovery under our belts know all too well that this is the addict-mind at it again. It’s a dangerous time which makes it all the more important that we surrender and turn the keys over to a power greater than ourselves.

Real Courage Means Asking for Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs and alcohol, maybe it’s time to surrender. Consider Ocean Recovery and let us take the wheel for a while. Our residential treatment facility in Newport Beach, California is the perfect environment in which to learn a new way of living. We offer a holistic, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment. This includes individual and group sessions, cognitive and dialectic behavioral therapies, nutritional therapy, yoga, and more. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction or eating disorders, please consider reaching out to us today. Real courage means asking for help. Ocean Recovery is ready to answer.


Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.

1. Wilson B. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book. Courier Dover Publications; 2019.

Last medically reviewed August 1, 2022.