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How to Work Step 1 Getting sober isn’t easy because it’s difficult to admit that you have a problem, let alone that you’re powerless to alcohol or drugs. However, this is exactly what Step 1 of the 12-Step Program asks of us.

What is Step 1 of the 12 Steps?

Step 1 of the 12-Step Program is: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

What Is the Purpose of Step 1?

This first step of the 12-Step Program can be very difficult to internalize because it’s saying that in order to overcome addiction, you have to stop trying to face it head-on. Instead, it asks that you admit that you have no power over alcohol and that your life is out of control.

For many people, this is a hard pill to swallow. Your drug or alcohol addiction may have started as a way to escape, a social activity, or even a medical treatment. As it progressed into an addiction, you may have justified it for various reasons and continued to be blind to the harmful effects it had on your personal life, professional life, and overall health and wellness.

Over time, your addiction may have completely overrun your life, but by that point, maybe all the chaos felt normal. Maybe you never even realized things were unmanageable until you found yourself in a deep, dark pit that you couldn’t get out of.

Admitting that you’re powerless to alcohol is difficult because it means being honest with yourself and recognizing that you have a problem. Going to detox and rehab is often a part of that first step.

Step 1of the 12-Step Program is extremely important and essential to recovery. If you can’t admit that you have a problem, then the rest of the steps won’t do you any good. In completing Step 1, you embrace the paradox described in the Big Book: you admit you’re powerless to your addiction, turn away from it, and walk toward the solution.

Ultimately, the purpose of Step 1 is to encourage introspection with honesty and, in turn, empower yourself to take steps toward recovery and away from addiction.

How to Work Step 1

The best way to work Step 1 is with the guidance of an addiction counselor, sponsor, and/or alongside your sober peers. Working through this first step together can provide support and encouragement when it gets tough. It can also help you remember that you’re not alone and that other people are facing similar life challenges.

While working Step 1 in drug rehab or with a community support group, there are a few things you can do to break through the fog and clearly see the impact of drugs and alcohol on your life.

First, you can write down some examples of consequences related to your addiction, such as:

  • Having feelings of guilt, despair, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, self-hate, or thoughts of suicide
  • Experiencing health problems like high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, insomnia, or ulcers
  • Having poor performance at work or school leading to loss of employment or poor grades
  • Losing parental rights, getting a divorce, or having serious relational problems with friends and family
  • Experiencing legal issues, financial problems, or incarceration

Second, you can make a list of some of the ways you have been powerless to alcohol or drugs in the past and how your addiction has caused chaos in your life. For example, you may have:

  • Neglected to pay your mortgage and used the money to buy drugs instead.
  • Chosen to get drunk instead of attending your son or daughter’s performance, game, graduation, or some other important event.
  • Used drugs while at work despite already being warned that if you were caught again, you would lose your job.

You may have become accustomed to keeping these things a secret, so writing them down and sharing them with a support group or other clients in rehab may feel impossible. However, instead of carrying these secrets around with you, unpacking them and sharing actually lifts the burden and gives you the freedom you need to move forward without them dragging you down.

Working Step 1 isn’t easy, but it’s an important part of your journey to recovery. If you’d like professional help working through the 12 Steps, call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today at (512) 363-5914 for more information about our IOP, sober living, and continuing care services for people in recovery. We are here to help when you’re ready.

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