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What’s in Your Control (and What Isn’t)

In Addiction, Sober Living by Tree House RecoveryLeave a Comment

Every day that you wake up, there are things you believe are in your control that are not. The normalities and givens of everyday life are subject to change. What many call science is really  just a long occurrence. For example, planet earth spins on an axis. Should the earth ever stop spinning on its axis, everything would become chaos very quickly. The sun is expected to rise every day as we rotate around it. Should the sun, which is a star, ever explode, planet earth would have just a few minutes notice before incineration. These things are not in our control. Yet, we are able to live with them. We don’t obsess about the sun and demand that it doesn’t explode. We don’t live in fear about the earth spinning off its axis and turn to self-defeating behaviors to cope. Some of the biggest things that are out of our control seem so trivial that we pay them no mind. For the smaller things, which comparatively seem insignificant, we become largely concerned.

Control is a word we use a lot in addiction. The infamous “serenity prayer” includes sentiments about what is and what is not within our ability to change, which can be easily translated into what we can and cannot control. Addiction is, for many men, an effort of control. As a coping mechanism, as a mechanism for self-destruction, abusing drugs and alcohol feels like control. When emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and life circumstances feel out of control, the euphoric effects produced by drugs and alcohol can provide that sense of control, though it is false. Ironically, loss of inhibition and loss of basic cognitive, as well as motor functioning is not control. Men turn to drugs and alcohol to feel control over losing control when they have lost control in many other areas of their life. Unfortunately, addiction is a progressive disease. Control is an illusion when it comes to mind altering substances like drugs and alcohol. Even when addiction becomes completely out of control, those who are addicted still strive to regain it. Like chasing the wind, they never succeed. Control over themselves and their lives only returns once they completely surrender their addiction and lose the fantasy that it will ever be different. There are many things in life a man has control, many more over which he does not. Learning the difference is what the “serenity prayer” refers to as wisdom.

For the most part, living life on earth is completely in your control. In recovery, we hear a term that goes something like “living life on life’s terms”. Life’s terms are not always within our control, in our own lives and in the life of every single person in the entire world. Each person is tasked to learn what they cannot and cannot control, and cope with what remains in between. Additionally, we are each having to cope with what everyone else is coping with- something out of our control.


Treatment for addiction helps us learn what is in our control and what is not. Systematically, we can let go of what is not in our control and focus only on what is. Through therapy, intensive physical training, and experiential adventure learning, we fully harness the power of our potential and take control of our lives in a healthy and sustainable way. Tree House Recovery is a men’s residential treatment center, offering men freedom from addiction and a lifetime of sustainable recovery. Call us today for information on our Portland programs: (503) 850-2474


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