Surrendering to Residential Treatment at Bridging the Gaps

Linda Wilk, MA, QMHP

When learning to swim, it’s natural enough to resist our initial sinking in the water. We seem to be going down. And the more we struggle at the surface, the stronger the pull seems, wanting to take us under. But  when we can relax into the water, we settle a few inches into the miracle of buoyancy. Amazingly, the unseen depths hold us up.

Mark Nepo

Surrender is one of the big paradoxes with addiction.  How hard we fight before we come into treatment and recovery!  We fight until there is no fight left in us at all.  We fight until we are almost dead, until we have “hit bottom.”  Hitting bottom looks different for each of us, and sometimes we are dragged to our bottom by the police, by our jobs, or our parents.  But make no mistake; no one comes into treatment because it seemed like a good idea to take a spa vacation.  Even though some treatment centers bill themselves like they are spas, recovery is hard work and involves surrender!


First there is the commitment to detox.  Five to fourteen days of supervised withdrawal from the substance you have been married to for the last memorable period of your life.  This has most likely been the strongest commitment of your life.  It does not go away lightly.  Depending on the substance, it could be life threatening to stop on your own, and cravings to use come with the withdrawal.  Some don’t even make it through this stage before they walk out.  It takes a degree of surrender to stay and commit to the new lifestyle change.  While in detox, you will get support, education, and an introduction to the need for meetings or other support if you are going to remain in recovery.  Then you will get a referral to inpatient treatment, to strengthen, educate and set you on a path to strengthen you for the road that is ahead of you should you choose it.  As we surrender, we learn how to float, we learn that paradox that floating is natural to us, like the buoyancy of water.


What are the expectations of residential treatment here at Bridging the Gaps?  What will it mean to “surrender?”  These are important questions as you are on your way here.  Your success in treatment depends on YOU, and on your attitude.  All along the way through treatment, you will encounter opportunities for resistance.  Chances are that you already know that you can be a stubborn person, that you don’t like to be told what to do, and that you tend to be an above-average, go-getter type person.  If you are not, it’s most likely because you have tended to be depressed, or you have had the motivation pressed out of you by the circumstances of life.  These are some of the things that will be addressed if you stay in treatment for the time recommended. First, though, we will have to get your body healthy, and have you understand the brain disease of alcoholism.  There’s the first place that people usually have trouble surrendering:  acceptance that alcoholism is a disease and they have it.  Try to sit back and listen and learn, even though your brain will want to resist. 

The goal of residential treatment at this point is to work towards acceptance and to learn as much as we can about things we didn’t know before.  If you’ve been through treatment before, the goal might be to hear things you didn’t understand or weren’t open to before.  If you have ended up in treatment again, maybe there’s something others know that you are missing.  It’s a possibility to consider.


Phase I of residential treatment is about physical recovery and understanding the basics of recovery from the disease of addiction.  At Bridging the Gaps we are concerned with a holistic model of recovery:  Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.  This means that for a person to have the best chance of recovery, he or she will have to look at all four aspects of their own self.  In this phase you will encounter Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, learn about your own relapse warning signs, and identify personal concerns that could block your recovery. You will be introduced to 12 step meetings and will begin to build a network for recovery.  Sound a little too much?  Surrender!


While Phase I is very much a scripted form of recovery with specific required education sessions and presentations, Phase II of residential treatment begins to be tailored more to the needs of the individuals and the particular community for emotional recovery.  At this point, you will be identifying what your particular needs are for healthy recovery, and your counselor, as well as your groups, will help you focus in that direction.  The goal is to learn how to function in the world as “a healthy member of society.”  That means that everything you do here, whether living in the residence, preparing a meal, going to a 12 step meeting in the community, or participating in education or a group, you will be expected to be making progress in addressing the issues and short-comings that you personally have been affected by in your addiction. At Bridging the Gaps, we are aware that many have not matured because they used whenever faced with challenges or conflicted.  Some used rage to push others away.  Some melted into the background or used people-pleasing to avoid conflict.  There are a lot of defense mechanisms that we developed even before we drank or used, and now is the times to ask, are these really working for us?  If not, it is time to surrender to that fact and ask for help in developing skills that do work.  If not, how will we survive sober or clean?


Phase III involves Spiritual Recovery. Every phase of residential treatment and recovery is designed to build a stronger recovering person, and every phase requires yet another level of surrender.  One of the hardest phases of surrender is to the idea that we cannot do this thing alone.  Each phase at Bridging the Gaps offers new freedoms and with those freedoms come the necessary responsibilities to manage that freedom well. An essential spiritual axiom is that we require discipline to manage freedom.  And part of that discipline is learning that no person is an island.  We much each learn what it means to be reliant on others, on the power of the universe or God, and to reach out and ask for help. This is the place that most people are taken down and relapse.  It seems that the inner struggle between the ego wanting to be all-powerful and do it alone, and the surrender to asking for help and seeing that this is where true strength is found, is the greatest struggle of all.


Bridging the Gaps is committed to helping each individual find the source of their own true power within themselves.  It is a spiritual journey for each of the staff as well as for each client and alumni who has traveled through the program.  It is not unusual for a client to return to the program if they have struggled or relapsed and are in need of help.  This is because they know they will not be judged, that we all believe in the disease model and want only the best for both our clients and their families. We treat and offer aftercare to both addicts and co-addicts (families) in an attempt to build strong family systems in the recovery model.  Surrender is important to all of us, to addicts, alcoholics and families alike.  Call us to talk, and see where change is possible.

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