Step 1 of AA: Taking A Deeper Look
Considering that the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were created decades ago, it can be difficult to fully understand what each one asks you to do. Everyone can interpret the phrasing and words of each step in their own way, particular to their situation.
If you’re looking to enter AA, you may be held up on what the first step is saying. Don’t worry because you’re not the only one looking for guidance.
The great thing about AA is that you’re meant to ask questions and learn as you go. Addiction recovery is a long and difficult process if you’re willing to put in the work.
If you’re trying to better understand the first step, you’re already in the right mindset. To see the success that you want, you need to understand what each step means and how it relates to your life.
To succeed in recovery, you must be willing to put in the effort at each stage you go through. You must also understand what each step means to get the most out of the program. Keep reading to learn more about the first step of AA and what it’s asking you to do.
Break Down the Language
“We admit we are powerless over alcohol — that our lives have become unmanageable.”
When a person first reads the step, wanting to disagree is natural. You may not think your life is unmanageable, and you may think you still have some control over your alcohol consumption.
However, this is not the case, no matter how good you are about putting up a front to your addiction. If you’re in an AA meeting, you know something about your behavior is wrong, but you might not know how to fix it yet.
And that’s okay! You’re not meant to have all the answers after your first day. The best thing you can do is break down the language in the first step so you can see how you might relate to it.
What Does It Mean To Be Powerless?
When it comes to substance abuse and alcohol addiction, you don’t always realize the hold it has over you until it’s too late. You don’t realize that you are all thinking about getting your next drink.
You don’t always see how alcohol is putting strain on your relationships. In fact, you’re likely to be in denial until you decide to get help. And even after that, it’s hard to admit that a substance is controlling so many aspects of your life.
What it means to be powerless over a substance is that when a person uses it, even just the slightest amount, it quickly takes over. That person will crave more and may even think they need more to function.
If alcohol is placed in front of a person with alcohol addiction, there is usually only one thing that happens: they drink it. Even if they don’t want to, they are powerless over the effects it has on them.
Once you can admit to this, you can move past your shame or guilt and focus on getting better.
What Is Unmanageable?
A person that is struggling with alcohol addiction may find that their cravings, the way that they act, and how others perceive them are unmanageable. Though someone struggling may not think their life is unmanageable, especially if they can still hold a job, keep up with some responsibilities, and maintain relationships.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality, and many times, as a person’s addiction progresses, things begin to unravel.
What Is This First Step Asking You To Do?
The first step of AA is asking you to admit that you need help. The first step is admitting that you are struggling and need assistance from other people, whether friends and family, a sober community, or professionals.
It’s letting go of the shame and guilt you carry over your addiction and allowing others in your life to understand what you’re going through. You have to accept that you have a problem and that it won’t go away on its own. Once you can do this, you can begin to move through the 12 steps easier.
Acting on Step 1
Part of understanding step one is learning how to act on it. If you want to fully dive in and admit that you have a problem, the easiest way is to put it out into the world. Keeping it all inside of you may be what’s holding you back.
If you don’t say it out loud, is it really true? Do you actually have an addiction, or is it all in your head? This is what substance abuse wants you to think!
When you put words to how you are feeling and explain to someone other than yourself (even if it’s just a notepad) what is happening with your alcohol habits, it becomes your reality. Otherwise, you can lie to yourself and trick yourself into thinking you don’t have a problem.
Speak Up at AA
When you attend your first meeting at Alcoholics Anonymous, it can be scary to speak. Maybe take the first day to listen to others and only share what you’re comfortable with. See how others navigate speaking about their addiction, and note how you feel when others are sharing.
When the time is right, speaking up about your own struggles can make them feel more real. You add weight to them when you share your fears and habits with other people.
You end up participating in the first step when you speak in AA. Admitting to a room full of people you don’t know that you have a problem can be terrifying, but it shows that you’re ready to start working on your sobriety. It shows that you understand there is a problem and are ready to put in the work to be better.
Tell Someone About Your Desire To Drink
At this early stage in the process, you’ll think a lot about drinking. You’re going to realize just how much you rely on alcohol to get you through the day when you’re trying to enter into recovery from it. When you get the urge to use or have difficulty overcoming certain triggers, the best thing you can do to act on step 1 is talk to someone else about what’s happening.
Keeping things bottled up inside of you will not help you in the long run. It also shows that you still feel shameful about your desire to drink, which is holding you back.
Find someone you can trust and ask if they’d be okay talking to them when the urges and cravings happen. Trust us — they will happen, so having someone to decompress with can make the recovery process a bit easier.
Tell Them If You Do Drink
Admitting that you’ve had a slip-up and used alcohol may be the hardest thing to do. With step one, many often feel a sense of pride.
You are proud that you were able to seek treatment, but when you make a mistake, you may want to simply give up or lie to those around you so they aren’t ashamed of you. Admitting your mistakes is in line with step one.
There will be slip-ups that happen from time to time, but if you’re able to tell someone about them, you’re holding yourself accountable for your actions. While you may feel powerless the moment you have a drink, you regain that power when you seek out someone to talk to.
Find a Sponsor at AA
Accountability is everything when starting your recovery journey. Finding a place where you can be supported and understood can make the process easier and more peaceful.
You want to find someone who can hold you accountable but might not have a direct connection to you. Talking to friends and family is one thing, but having a sponsor through AA is key.
When you find a sponsor, you can go to them when you’re struggling without hesitation and seek out advice. You can learn strategies to overcome addiction and cravings through your sponsor. It’s likely that they’ve gone through the process and have valuable insights to share.
Community Is Key
Along with joining an AA group, you join a community of people trying to improve their lives. They don’t want alcohol to control them any longer and have all taken the first step toward getting help.
There are plenty of ways to find a community that supports sober living and seeking help. When you download the Sober Sidekick app, you can help monitor your addiction easier and enter into a community of people who want to see you get better.
Sober Sidekick offers resources for addiction, online AA meetings for when you’re feeling down, and a network of sober people and addiction professionals that want to help contribute to your success.
Reach out today to learn more about what Sober Sidekick can do for you as you begin the journey of addiction recovery!