1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
bb. pg 30
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.
bb. pg 31
We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse.
bb. pg 33
Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally.
Step 1. Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps & 12 Traditions book
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness. It is truly awful to admit that, glass in hand, we have warped our minds into such an obsession for destructive drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it from us.
No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete.
But upon entering A.A. we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.
We know that little good can come to any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he has first accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety—if any—will be precarious. Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyond doubt by an immense experience, this is one of the facts of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered.
When first challenged to admit defeat, most of us revolted. We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it. There was, they said, no such thing as the personal conquest of this compulsion by the unaided will. Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol—an allergy, they called it. The tyrant alcohol wielded a double-edged sword over us: first we were smitten by an insane urge that condemned us to go on drinking, and then by an allergy of the body that insured we would ultimately destroy ourselves in the process. Few indeed were those who, so assailed, had ever won through in singlehanded combat. It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources. And this had been true, apparently, ever since man had first crushed grapes.
In A.A.’s pioneering time, none but the most desperate cases could swallow and digest this unpalatable truth. Even these “last-gaspers” often had difficulty in realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did, and when these laid hold of A.A. principles with all the fervor with which the drowning seize life preservers, they almost invariably got well. That is why the first edition of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” published when our membership was small, dealt with low-bottom cases only. Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.
It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?
It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression. To the doubters we could say, “Perhaps you’re not an alcoholic after all. Why don’t you try some more controlled drinking, bearing in mind meanwhile what we have told you about alcoholism?” This attitude brought immediate and practical results. It was then discovered that when one alcoholic had planted in the mind of another the true nature of his malady, that person could never be the same again. Following every spree, he would say to himself, “Maybe those A.A.’s were right. . . .“ After a few such experiences, often years before the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return to us convinced. He had hit bottom as truly as any of us. John Barleycorn himself had become our best advocate.
Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.’s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t care for this prospect—unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.
Under the lash of alcoholism, we are driven to A.A., and there we discover the fatal nature of our situation. Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be. We stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us.
My name is David W and I'm an alcoholic. John F has asked that I help in chairing this Step Work Board. So many times I've come into AA with the hopes of getting something back that I lost by drinking such as a spouse or loved one, a job, a driver's license ect. I've also come to the rooms specifically for relief from the pain caused by drinking. To get people off my back. All of these motivations eventually only led me to drinking again. The reason why is because I never admitted complete defeat. Never totally surrendered. Although I could readily admit being an alcoholic, I couldn't truly experience what it means fully to accept my alcoholism and the unmanageability throughout my life because I was still trying to piece it back together by my own self-will. After many successive lapses back into drinking after periods of abstinance, I finally came to the deep and convicting level of surrender that allowed me to accept and admit being completely powerless over alcohol- that no matter how hard I try I cannot, by my own will, stop and stay stopped. By fully accepting that I have the disease of alcoholism and that I cannot drink successfully ever again, I have finally been able to accept being powerless over alcohol-that my life has become unmanageable as a result of self-will run riot. Desperation and pain made me willing and able to be open-minded enough to be honest. For me, admitting powerlessness is no longer painfull. It leads me on my first step on the path of hope, peace and recovery.
Hi jo alcoholic
I never looked at it as though I was powerless. I thought I CHOSE to drink. I was full of so much self-pity. I believed I drank to kill the pain. I had never tried to give it up so I really didnt know that I was powerless over alcohol. And I knew my life was crap but I never thought that was because I couldnt manage it or the drink was taking it....just thought bad things happened to me
It was only once I came to AA that I realised how powerless I was. I still thought I could manage myself but was proven wrong when I stopped going to AA for a few months and my life took a nose dive.
As I had a few sponsors on my journey I have physically done step 1 two different ways. The first time I read the big book up to chapter 4 with my sponsor. The second time I answered a questionairre that my sponsor had obtained from a treatment centre. I know I do a step 1 every morning when I get on my knees.
I have known some to get this step quick and some get it slow...it takes what it takes. I am so glad that I finally 'got it' though however long it took.
Hey Everybody, ... 1st step was easy for me the last time coming back ... I was in and out of AA for 13 years, always looking for a way to control my drinking ... always there was failure ... for alcohol is a subtle foe ... I had long conceded defeat to alcohol before coming back ... no matter how hard I tried, I could not beat it ... alcohol took me to near death this time ... many times I thought I'd hit bottom, and many times I found a way to dig my hole deeper ... It wasn't until I came back and admitted that I had NO control over my life what-so-ever, that I was powerless over alcohol, that I could make a new beginning ... Thank God and AA for this first step to Freedom ...God Bless,Pappy
"Today ... I'm Better Than I Deserve"
Step one, like has been said on this thread, in the Big Book, has two thirds of the text of the working part of the program. That's cause its the hardest thing to get through this thick skull of mine. To acknowledge the fact that i'm the problem and not them, or her, or the job, or this town. Its me, and putting alcohol in me only makes it worse. It goes from bad to worse when i add alcohol. But until I admit complete defeat, its everyone and everything else that makes me need a drink.
I am an alcoholic of the hopeless variety, as its called in our Big Book, and as such, the fact that I can not have just one drink is not because my will power is weak, or that I have no back bone, dont care about what I am doing to my self or the people who love me.The reason I cant have one drink with out setting it all in motion, is what the Dr's Opinion say's, is that I am drinking to try and satisfy a physical craving beyond my control brought on by putting alcohol in my system. It is as sylkworth say's " The phenomin of craving". Science now knows that in the body of the alcoholic, alcohol does not break down like in normal people, and when it gets to the liver, its a chemical closely related to acetone, one of the most addictive substances on earth. So my inability to stop drinking is a physical craving beyond my control. But as the DR's Opinion says if thats all it was, all I would have to is go on the wagon. Impossible for THE REAL ALCOHOLIC. Coupled with the physical allergy ( phenomenon of craving ) is the obsession of the mind. Which just simply means that the thought of a drink puts out all other thoughts in my mind till I take a drink an set it all in motion again and again and again even though my life has turned to crap and I know I should stop. All of this is fueled by the third aspect of alcoholism, the spiritual malady. The action of alcohol on the real alcoholic is a spiritual experience.And what means to me, is that When I took a drink in the beginning, alcohol allowed me to feel like I was a part of my own life. I was able to be right here right now and life was good whether it was or it wasn't. Later on, when I felt alone and desolate in side, alcohol would liven up my spirit so I could come out and play. My father who is not alcoholic and cant understand why I used to drink when I could see what it was doing to me, asked me after I got sober, Why. I told him " pop, if you knew how I felt when I didnt drink, you would know why I drank" If I dont admit complete defeat, and understand the true nature of what it is I suffer from, there will be no long turm sobriety.
The second part of the first step to me has to do with the utter inability to manage my life, drunk or sober because undrunk, and of my self, my spiritual condition is always in decay, and my management skills suck as a result. So basically to me step one is I"M SCREWED, I'm screwed if I drink, I'm screwed if I dont drink. I need a God of my own understanding to give me the needed power to dispel the obsession to drink, and then to take steps to have and maintain a spiritual experience so I can live comfortably in my own skin, and not feel like a visitor in my own life.
On the wall, in the steps,there are 200 words and alcohol is only mentioned once. Alcohol is but a symptom, its not the problem for a real alcoholic any more then snot and sneezing is the problem for someone with the flue. For me, when I take alcohol out of the alcoholic, i'm left with ic. Thanks to God and AA I dont have to live with the ic if I dont want to, and I can do it with out a drink. Thank you for letting me share.
If how I feel, becomes more important than what I do, IM SCREWED!!!
I finally knew I couldn't manage my own life when I came 'to' one day and realized I had lost the ablility to actually 'love' ... It dawned on me that my whole world had become a quest for the next drink ... I had lost the 'love' I once had for my job, my hobbies, my kids, my wife, my friends ... hell, I lost the capacity to 'love' anything other than that 'high' I got from my friend alcohol ... What a 'frickin' life ... actually, in all respects, you can't call that life ... Oh man, during withdrawal, I so welcomed death ... I wanted it to be over ... I knew I could keep living with alcohol, but I couldn't imagine life without it ... That first step, the admission ... WOW ... that was my 'turning point' ... and thank God for the remaining eleven ... Don't drink today and you have a better chance of figuring things out when tomorrow comes ... Take Care and God Bless,Pappy
Little Big Book reading....Page 44We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the nonalcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
Makes sense to me.
Hi John and Dan,
Thanks for doing the steps. I never cared for the word, surrender. To admit defeat was beyond me. I had too, unfortunately, not by choice though. It wasn't until the drink got the best of me, before I was finally able to surrender. Even then, it was a stretch. Basically, I had to hit rock bottom first before I finally threw up the white flag. I had to surrender, totally. And when I did, something amazing happened. I felt free...
I was able to take my first sober breath the day after my admission. I had to let go completely before I could move on. They say in "AA", nothing good will come out of this program until we first admit defeat. How true. I could only imagine what life would of been like if I came in earlier. Well, I eventually did. And life hasn't been the same, since.
Bill W. wrote this principle in step one, which I feel is invaluable: "We know that little good can come to any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he has first accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety--if any--will be precarious at best. Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyond doubt by an immense experience, this is one of the facts of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered". How true. This was my jumping off point, and one I needed to realize most of all. I had to surrender, totally, before I could be set free.
With that, came an immense spiritual awakening; A profound sense of fullness and manageability. I had experienced my first taste at life outside the bottle. I finally put a "plug in the jug" and was able to start enjoying life as it was meant to be. From there, life has got so much better. I can continue on the path to a more promising future, one day at a time. But only with your help. I can, with everyones support, enjoy life within the confines of AA" and this fellowship for many years to come. And for that I say, thank you.
Thanks for doing the steps. I never really cared for the word surrender. It casted an ugly shadow in the light of my true self. It felt like an act of betrayal on my part, like I was committing alcoholic treason, somehow. Admitting defeat was not in my vocabulary either, nor was my desire to sober up. I had too, unfortunately, not by choice though. It wasn't until the drink got the best of me that I was finally able to surrender. Even then, it was a stretch. Basically, I had to let go absolutely; and when I did something amazing happened, I felt freedom for the very first time.
When I finally discovered the horrible truth behind my alcoholism, I felt aghast. I felt disgusted with the image of my alcoholic self, plain and simple. And that was only the beginning. I was never too comfortable with "AA's" definition of the term alcoholic as described in "AA's" first step. Nor was I a fan of the words 'personal powerlessness' or 'unmanageability' either. The mere mention of either/or would make my alcoholism cringe. I thought personal powerlessness meant defeatism, and defeatism wasn't an option for me, especially a man of my stature. The idea did slowly grow on me -though not at first, as did the prospect of long term sobriety. And "AA's" first step had a lot to do with that. Here's "AA's" definition of the first step -in my words of course: "Nothing good will come of step 1 until we first admit complete defeat". How true. Bill W. penned a similar principle in step one that I feel is invaluable also and it goes like this: "We know that little good can come to any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he has first accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety--if any--will be precarious at best. Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyond doubt by an immense experience, this is one of the facts of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered". How true. This was my jumping off point, and one I needed to realize most of all. I had to surrender, totally, before I could be set free.
My life started to improve after that. And so did my outlook on sobriety. I not only experienced an immense spiritual awakening, but a growing sense of direction towards anything divinely related. I was finally given the freedom to enjoy life today and do so like never before. What seemed like a mistake at first became a self fulfilling prophecy 10 years in the making. I had experienced my first real taste of life outside the confines of my active alcoholism, culminating ever so gently into the sober life I enjoy today. It was my first real breakthrough in sobriety, thank God, and I haven't looked back since. The life I never knew started to take shape, as I began to purse my dreams in a manner reserved only for alcoholics in recovery. Basically, I was finally able to put a "plug in the jug", thanks to AA, and I started to enjoy life again as a result.
Life, as I know it today, has gotten so much better. And I continue to enjoy the vast riches of this sober life in and out of this program. I'm afforded certain luxuries today that so few alcoholics can ever fathom - including the freedom to pursue my goals without the damaging effects of alcohol anymore. But only with everyone's support, that is. The journey I've been on hasn't been easy -not by any stretch, but it has been fulfilling. I enjoy life today with all its comforts and it gets better with age, but it came with a price. And one I'll never forget. The priceless gift of sobriety can only be enjoyed within the confines of this wonderful fellowship, not without -a concept I subscribe too mostly. With everyone's continued support, however, any one of us can turn what was once a subpar existence into a life full of meaning and purpose. And For that we say...thank you.