To admit one’s disease, his or her addiction, and to look clearly at the devastation it has caused, is also to feel long-repressed emotional pain. Surrendering to one’s addiction is always a painful process. It means addressing the emotional pain of the disease. In effect, the addict has been medicating his or her feelings for a long time. Because feelings are automatic, we don’t get to choose what we feel or whether we feel. The emotions that are contained deep inside the active addict are never happiness, joy, and excitement, but instead are hurt, anger, and fear. There is the fear that once the alcohol or other drug or the addictive behavior is gone, what is left? What will be left of the person I once was? There is also the overwhelming fear of the unknown and learning to be emotionally accountable for oneself. At its essence, it is no longer blaming others for your feelings or the problems in your life. It means accepting that your feelings are your own. Addicts can recognize the need to quit for a variety of often serious reasons. Examples include fear of losing their marriage, their children, their physical health, or their job or career, or fear of serious legal issues. Yet recognizing the need to quit does not equal surrender. When someone relies on just having a good reason to quit, he or she is usually relying on willpower alone. Willpower alone is seldom enough. We as human beings hold onto what is familiar, even if it is painful and destructive, because our fear of the unknown is so great. Unfortunately, for most of us, it often takes circumstances becoming so painful that “anything has got to be better than this” before we are finally willing to take a leap of faith and trust that something or somebody will be there for us. When clients surrender and share honestly during group process that they are addicts and recount some of the things they have done in their addiction, much to their surprise, instead of rejecting them or seeing them as weak, the group reaches out to literally embrace them. They speak of the clients’ courage, identifying with their losses and their emotional pain. They express their concern and care, not judging the clients, but welcoming them into a new place in their recovery, a place where they can find peace. This blog post is an excerpt from Finding a Purpose in the Pain – A Doctor’s Approach to Addiction Recovery and Healing – by James L. Fenley, Jr., MD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).