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As they say in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, “you must complete an honest first step or all the other steps will not work.” My personal experience with step one started after a horrible relapse and a struggle to make it back to “the rooms”.
How I Did an Honest First Step
My sponsor asked me to make a list of all the things I had lost while in my active addiction. He then asked me to make a list of everything I wanted to gain in sobriety.
Putting these past experiences and future hopes on paper made it possible for me to accept what had happened in my years of addiction and have some hope for my future in sobriety.
Seeing all that I had lost due to my addiction opened my eyes to the unmanageability of my life. Step one says, “we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.”
My sponsor then had me fill out a worksheet with a variety of questions about how my addiction affected my daily life and the difficulty of stopping once I had started. I recalled numerous blackouts and periods of wanting to quit using, but being unable to. This put into perspective the powerlessness I had over my addiction. Honestly accepting that I was powerless and that my life had become unmanageable gave me the strength to continue working the rest of the steps with a mentality that my life depended on it.
At this point, my sponsor asked me to start reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned that I had an allergy to alcohol and that once I started the phenomenon of craving would take over. This would start the viscous cycle of not being able to stop once I put the first drink in my system. Learning this was like an epiphany for me! Looking back at my drinking, it all made sense now. If I stayed away from that first drink, I wouldn’t get drunk! I wish it was that simple though.
My sponsor had me learn the principles along with each step. Step one’s principle was honesty. During my years of active addiction, I wasn’t the most honest person. With my new found eagerness for sobriety, dishonesty would not be an option. I began to tell the truth in all of my affairs. This definitely went against my natural first thought, but over time it became a habit.
Along with honesty, I began helping others in any way that I could. My sponsor would have me help set up and clean up at our groups and give others rides to meetings. These might seem like small tasks, but during these times of helping others, I wasn’t thinking about myself or drinking!
Over time, I began to feel better and one day, I realized that I had not thought about drinking for quite some time. Doing an honest first step was absolutely the difference in my sobriety this time compared to the other multiple relapses. Having a good sponsor and an open mind were the keys to my early sobriety.