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Addiction Help: Step 1 of the 12 Steps of Recovery

The 12 steps are the framework and foundation of every 12 step program. Originally started by Alcoholics Anonymous, these steps have helped millions recover from all types of addiction. Adapted to fit just about any type of program, the basic premise still remains the same today; come to accept your condition, come to the realization you can’t overcome your addiction on your own and began to clean up the damage your addiction caused. The first step is widely considered to be the most important part of the steps.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.”

Acceptance and honestly are the key components to this step. Two words always seem to stand out when new comers see this written on the walls of meetings, “powerless” and “unmanageable”. You will hear people say, “I have a great job, I’ve never been arrested. This isn’t me!” while others will immediately relate. Remember that those two words can have a lot of different interpretations. The important thing to remember is that regardless of how one interprets this it usually boils down to one simple truth, alcohol (or drugs) have negatively impacted your life in such a way, you need help. It means you have accepted the outcome of your addiction and are ready to change; this is the honesty the first step is hinting at.

Powerless: Alcohol controlled you more than you controlled alcohol

  • Do you drink or use more often than intended?
  • Do you drink or use in larger quantities than you intend?
  • Have alcohol or drugs become a focal point of your life?

Unmanageable: You could no longer try to fix this problem on your own

  • Have you tried to stop drinking or using drugs with no success?
  • Are aspects of your life damaged from your alcohol or drug use?

If someone is walking into a 12 step meeting, it is usually safe to assume they have made it to this point, or are close to accepting it. Once someone accepts this, a burden is lifted from their shoulders. They realize they no longer have to fight, and there is an answer. By honestly taking this step, it opens new doors which hold keys to long lasting sobriety and happiness within that sobriety. You will hear in the rooms of 12 step meetings that relapses occur when you don’t fully accept the first step, you will hear people say “I wasn’t honest with myself”. People hold on to the idea that they will one day be able to drink or use like someone who doesn’t suffer from alcoholism or addiction, they have the notion they are just in a rut and need to learn to control things. More than not, these people are back at the first step, ready to be honest. With honesty and willingness, the first step can be taken.

Everyone moves at their own pace with the 12 steps, and some people are ready to be honest sooner than others, but the fact remains, if you can be honest with yourself there is nothing stopping you from improving your life and achieving sobriety. The most severe and chronic of alcoholics and addicts have stayed sober all because of this first step. The steps are in order for a reason, and without the first step, no other steps can follow.

For more information about the 12 Steps or for a list of meetings in the Chicago area go to:

If you are concerned you wont be able to do this alone and think treatment will help you get started in recovery, please call New Hope Recovery Center and schedule an assessment that is completely confidential. 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center