Step 1 of AA, also known as the first step, is an admittance to one’s inability to control their intake of alcohol. The steps are meant to humble the alcoholic, which is the key ingredient to sobriety, and step 1 does not fall short of doing just that.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Official Readings on Step 1
- Pages xxv-30, Doctor’s Opinion, Bill’s Story, There is a Solution (“Big Book”)
- Pages 21-24 (“12 Steps & 12 Traditions”)
How to do Step 1
There are two aspects of alcoholism that every alcoholic needs to understand in order to come to terms with step 1.
(1) – Every alcoholic has what is called the phenomenon of craving that starts with the first drink. Once we start we cannot stop and when we do stop that physical craving is hard to fend off.
(2) – The obsession that one day we will be able to control our drinking. Alcoholism is a disease that cannot be cured, it can only be arrested. Unfortunately, alcoholics are unable to take a pill that will make it all go away like other diseases, because alcoholism is both a phycological (mental) and physical disease. Our disease plays a dangerous game with our heads when we achieve long lengths of sobriety and tries to convince us that we no longer have a problem or that we are cured.
After understanding these two important facts about alcoholism do we realize that we are powerless over alcohol. The only way to gain “power” or the strength to quit is to develop a relationship with a Higher Power. Once you have gained a spiritual foundation, the phycological and physical part of the disease is subdued and the only way to keep your spiritual foundation is by continually working with other alcoholics.
Complete Step 1 by having your sponsor ask (you) this question:
“Are you ready to go to any lengths to quit drinking?
If you can answer “yes” to this question, it’s now time to move on to step 2.
Working Step 1
Depending on the subject’s willingness to be open and honest, step 1 can either be difficult or it can be hard. There is really no work involved besides taking a step back and peering into the past and see how alcohol affected your life. It’s possible that an alcoholic is beaten so badly by alcohol, it’s obvious to anyone that takes one look at him or her but still looks in the mirror and doesn’t see the problem.
Until the alcoholic has been through enough pain, until enough is enough, he or she is most likely unwilling to admit that they are powerless over alcohol. Who wants to admit that? After all, up until giving alcohol up, the drink is our best friend and the only thing we really ever cared about. However, the only way to begin doing the 12 steps is by taking that leap of faith, to be completely honest with ourselves, and admit that we are powerless over alcohol. If one can not be honest about the problem itself, it will be very difficult to turn that reflection inward and be honest about him or herself.
Self-denial can run very deep, and it often takes someone to hit rock-bottom to see the truth of their condition. Therefore, step 1 can be a difficult step even for those that clearly have a problem but still aren’t convinced. For those that are convinced, have no other options, or just want to try something new are the people that will find step 1 an easy step to get through.
For those that are very sick and do have a big problem with alcohol, getting through step 1 is a big milestone. It’s the gateway to recovery. Once the alcoholic can be humbled, even just a little bit, is when the phycological transformation can begin.
On the bright side, Step 1 is one of the easier steps to complete as all it takes is simply admitting the fact that you are unable to manage your life, yourself or aspects of your life when drinking alcohol.
Step One AA Worksheet
The Step One AA worksheet is a designed as an introduction for an alcoholic to complete. Use caution when giving a worksheet like this to an alcoholic for the first time. This worksheet is most typically used in rehabs or similar environments. This step one worksheet is also very helpful when a sponsor is helping and getting to know a sponsee for the very first time. If you yourself are questioning whether you may have a problem with alcohol, this worksheet will be helpful to you.
<< | Step 1 | Step 2 >>