Letting Go of What You Can’t Control

One of the most common suggestions for staying clean and sober is the universal advice to control what you can control. You might understand to an extent what this advice is trying to tell you. You also know the exercises to help keep you distracted from using. But what does it actually mean to be in control? Is it simply resisting the impulse to drink or use drugs?

Is it accepting what you can’t control? Is your idea of control skewed because of what society says it means? To truly exercise control, you must first understand what control is and what it means to your sobriety.

Control and Addiction

Control is a word that is often associated with addiction. Normally, it is used in the context of being out of control or having no control. It is frequently said that when you succumb to your addiction, you have no control and therefore are completely powerless. These beliefs can promote negative thinking, causing you to believe that you are not capable of control.

And although you have been managing your sobriety until now, the influence of these stigmas coupled with the current situation might have you second-guessing yourself. Are you capable of exercising control while in quarantine? You know that addiction is a disease cultivated by using and abusing any substance or bad habit.

Armed with this knowledge, you may have exercised options to the fullest of your ability in your attempt to prevent addiction. It is not up to an outsider with little to no understanding to decide whether or not you are in control. Their lack of knowledge stems from insensitive beliefs and ignorance over what addiction truly is — even if they have your best interests at heart.

You have endured the struggles of your addiction long enough to know that you will not submit to the beliefs of someone who does not understand. This is why it’s important to stay connected and grow with your support community. These are friends who have the insight to help you detach yourself from the stigma.

Healthy Ways to Be in Control

Being in control or feeling out of control are sometimes two sides of the same coin. While outsiders might see you as being out of control, your beliefs at the time of your addiction likely caused you to think differently. You might have thought that you could fix your problems with drugs or alcohol. This abuse was not seen as abuse at the time, but as a coping mechanism to manage another problem. As a result, it led to addiction — not because of a lack of control, but because this was how you exercised control. At the time, you believed you were doing yourself good.

Now that you have recovered and maintained sobriety, your belief system has almost certainly changed. You have found alternative ways to exercise control of the situation. You cope with meditation, exercise, a good diet, gratitude, and more.


Perhaps an unsung hero amidst all of this is your ability to exercise strong willpower. An addiction can compromise your behavior and lead to making bad choices — not because you are powerless or losing control, but because the disease is convincing you that having a drink or using is the best choice. What might be motivating you now is a strong will to not use when times become difficult. Willpower will help you take responsibility for your actions and start motivating yourself to resist drugs or alcohol.


Sheer willpower is usually not enough to maintain this feeling of control. While willpower is an important facet for maintaining recovery, willpower can wane like any other practice, making you less motivated to achieving your goals to maintain sobriety. This is where having a good support group helps.

These friends, family members, and doctors will remind you why sobriety is important. They will reinforce accountability and motivation. During this time of self-quarantine, evaluate your options and come up with a plan of action to stay connected — not just how, but when. Maintaining a social schedule is great, especially if you are home by yourself.

Control is Complicated

The thought of control as an individual act can be corrupted or changed based upon the feelings and opinions of the individual. Control is far more complicated than just saying you will or you will not do that, or you can or cannot do that. Time moves on, circumstances change, and your reasons and ability to control a situation do as well. You can become confused and even lost trying to constantly live in I am in control or I am out of control.

You have a chronic disease in the brain that will always want to defer back to your addiction. Therefore, your recovery should always come first, and it takes a multitude of help and techniques to maintain it. It takes understanding, willpower, and support. Control is not the action but the result of hard practice and consistency.

It’s not always easy to manage your thoughts and behaviors. If you feel like you are lost or are having trouble controlling your addiction, it’s time to get help. True Recovery offers 24/7 support that is determined to find the right kind of care that you need to maintain sobriety. Whether you need to interact more with others or find new ways to practice self-care, True Recovery will be there to guide you along the way. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.