Newcomers to Alcoholics Anonymous are usually introduced to the first of the twelve steps on their very first visit to the group.
Most Alcoholics Anonymous members with significant sobriety insist on the importance of beginning twelve step work as soon as possible.
Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
This step has two distinct parts.
Unmanageability of My Drinking Life
The second part of Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1, admitting that our lives had become unmanageable, asks us to take an honest look at our lives and our behavior. For many of us, such an honest appraisal is new territory. We have been used to fiercely defending ourselves from all comers in an attempt to defend our fragile egos.
As the owner of a particularly large and overly delicate ego, this was very hard for me to admit. I argued that I met my obligations! I went to work every day and mowed the lawn on the weekend. I came home from work every day rather than running around in bars like “some people I know”.
In my opinion, the fact that I got drunk every night was of no importance to the conversation! Of course, I was wrong and this behavior was the core of the issue. The days of drinking for pleasure were long gone. I drank because I had to. I was ruled by a compulsion so strong that I could not control it.
If that is not “unmanageable” I don’t know what is.
Powerlessness over Alcohol
Admitting powerlessness is a pretty tall order. After all, nobody wants to admit that they have no power. The truth is that power is an illusion. We cannot actually MAKE another person act in a certain way.
Many people struggle with this concept, but I could see the truth of it right away. I had gone to great lengths to control my drinking. I tried to only drink on weekends. I switched from brown liquor to clear. Deciding hard liquor was my problem I promised to only drink beer. Maybe if I drank wine or only started drinking after a certain time in the evening?
None of these efforts paid off and I always ended up drunk.
Grudgingly, I admitted alcohol was more powerful than me. I fought it and fought it…and lost every time.