Alcoholics Anonymous is based around 12 Steps that are outlined to help individuals who have a desire to stop drinking alcohol. Starting with step 1, each member works their way through understanding each step and taking appropriate actions. Some steps can be addressed quickly, while others may take certain members a longer length of time. One thing to remember is that trying to rush your way through the steps only hurts you. Take your time to think about what each step represents and what it really means for you to “work the step.”

What is Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous?

According to official AA documentation, Step One is as such:

“We admit we are powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

There are 2 parts to this step, admitting powerlessness over alcohol and admitting that one’s life has become unmanageable. Although it may seem simple to “complete” this step and move on to the next, it isn’t that simple. Admitting you have a problem is always said to be the first step of recovery, but this doesn’t mean you are heading in the direction of sobriety. This is because once someone realizes or admits they have a problem they may begin to feel like they are unable or unwilling to make the necessary changes. 

Without being able to work step one of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will not be able to properly benefit from the rest of the program.

Let’s breakdown this first step of Alcoholics Anonymous:

What is powerlessness?

When referring to powerlessness in AA, it is referring to the inability to control how much alcohol you drink. Admitting that you are powerlessness over alcohol means that you cannot and never will be able to drink alcohol in a safe manner again. Any thoughts at all of drinking again in the future mean that you have not fully admitted to yourself that you are powerless over alcohol. In this way, admitting powerlessness means accepting that you can never drink alcohol again in the future – even in full amounts.

What does unmanageable mean?

Identifying a life that is “unmanageable” can be subjective, but there are a few clear ways in which one’s life could be labeled as such. If there are responsibilities at work, school, or in your personal life that are not being met, then this is a good sign of unmanageability. When drinking has become the priority and your career, relationships, finances, and other aspects of your life are suffering, these are signs that your life is unmanageable. Accepting that your life is unmanageable is often easier than admitting powerlessness over alcohol.

Help with Step One

Although Step One of AA is something that has to happen within yourself, that doesn’t mean that outside influences can’t help you get there. Working 1 on 1 with a therapist or attending group meetings can provide the ability to hear how others have worked this step and allow you the opportunity to talk out your own through process. Although you can if you desire, there is no need to work any of the AA steps completely on your own. Contact us to learn more about how we support 12 step programs at The Freedom Center.