When a person works through each of the Twelve Steps of recovery, they are likely to be able to make the changes they want. The Twelve Steps have proven to be a path towards creating change and healing for millions of people around the world. When those who want to stay sober continue to practice the Twelve Steps on a daily basis, they are more likely to, and will eventually, find sobriety. In this article, we will discuss the meaning of the first step, which is the first footstep in beginning to a process of healing and change.
The first step asks a person to be honest with themselves. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is this:
Step One: Admit that you are powerless over your addiction – that your life has become unmanageable.
If there were ever a time when the United States needed treatment methods for addiction, now is it. Drug and alcohol abuse continues to increase in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 2.1 million hospital visits in 2009 were the result of drug abuse. Also, according to the National Survey on Drug use and Health, 23.5 million people 12 years of age and older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. Sadly, of these, only 11.2 percent received treatment. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that approximately 53 percent of adults in the United States have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem. And, in 2009, an estimated 30.2 million people 12 or older reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year.
In other words, there are many people who experience the challenge of addiction and the harm of drug abuse. However, the first (and perhaps the only) way out of the pain is to become honest with yourself. The first step addresses a person’s sense of power. It asks that a person become honest about the their drug use and genuinely explore whether they’ve lost the power to say no to drugs or drinking.
One of the classic signs of addiction is that a person begins to act as though they need the alcohol or the drug to survive. As a result, they demonstrate compulsory (uncontrollable) drug-seeking behavior. They seek out the drug or alcohol and will continue to do so fervently until they’ve got what they want. And even if a person wants to say no to substance use, often they will find themselves drinking or using drugs anyway. This is the experience of losing power over drugs or drinking.
As mentioned already, the way out of the powerlessness is honesty. Admit that, yes, you’ve lost power to substances. Remember that addiction is a disease. Admitting you are powerless to substances doesn’t mean you’re powerless to everything. It only means that you’ve developed a dependency. And by admitting the powerlessness to the substance, you put yourself in a position to change things.
Instead of being caught in the cycle of addiction, you can step into recovery and learn, for instance, the scientific explanation behind how your brain was affected by the drug. You can begin to understand that you may not have control over everything that happens in life. However, you can be responsible for seeking out the tools, resources, and help you need to recover. In fact, the very power of your recovery will come from your ability to be honest with yourself and others.
You can start by taking your power back by calling for help today.