Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Overview

man taking step one ascending a staircase

Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Overview

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step one is often referred to as the only step we have to do perfectly. This is the point in which we admit that we have lost all power and control over our addiction. This is the step in which we lay the foundation for our recovery.

After admitting our powerlessness we can begin our journey to successful recovery. Without this step our efforts will be in vain. You see, it is the loss of power and control over our addiction that causes the unmanageability of our lives. Many of us addicts struggle with this step because we haven’t lost everything as others may have. This gives us the false sense that we may still have control. We feel that because our lives appear outwardly to be in order, how could we possibly admit that our lives had become unmanageable?

It is here that step one is often misinterpreted. The step says “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” The dash in this statement acts as a continuation of thought. It does not say “and our lives had become unmanageable.” The dash suggests that while we may still have our “stuff” together, our addiction causes all of that to hang on a precarious balance. At any moment our loss of power over the drink or the drug can bring it all crashing down around us.

The unmanageability of our lives, and our powerlessness over our addiction go hand in hand. We cannot recognize one without the other if we hope to be successful in recovery. Once we have understood and accepted these co-occurring facts, we can begin to stop fighting our disease. We can surrender to the fact that our old ways of living were unsuccessful, and a new way of living is a must for survival.

Taking step one is not just a matter of saying the words, rather it is an adoption of a new attitude and outlook upon life. Once we have admitted complete defeat and a willingness to surrender we begin learning how to change our self-defeating behaviors. We become willing to take the suggestions of others that have traveled the same path before us and have found recovery. This is the point where hope begins to return, and we start to realize that there is a better way of living free of the internal prison we have been trapped in during our active addiction. Here we break the chains that have held us down for so long.

Once we have thoroughly taken this step with no reservations of being able to control our addiction, our foundation for recovery is poured. It is from here that we plant our feet on solid ground once again and begin our life long journey of recovery!