The 12 Step Program: The First Step

The 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous has proved effective in helping those with addictions to drugs and alcohol find a way to heal and recover. In this series, we will dive deep into each step, providing insight on its statement and hopefully illuminate its gifts.

Understanding the First Step

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

The first step of the 12 step program is often the most difficult. For many, admitting we are powerless is akin to admitting defeat or conceding that we don’t have “what it takes » to overcome such a thing. According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, however, there is no chance of recovery without the first step. The act of relinquishing the power we assume that we have over ourselves is not easy.

For many people, this realization comes only after many attempts to control or limit their drinking in some way. You’ve probably done this too: “I will only drink after work,” or “I will not drink in the morning,” or maybe “I will only drink on weekends.” For others, it’s “I will only have (insert how many) drinks and then I will stop.” Sound familiar? If it does, then the ultimate result is probably familiar too: we slip back into old ways, only to arrive back where we started. The trouble is, this cycle almost always leads to heartbreak and suffering of our loved ones as much as ourselves.

How do you know when your drinking has become unmanageable?

This is a gauge that differs from person to person, but indications that your drinking has become unmanageable include the following:

  • The inability to stop drinking after having just one drink
  • The need to seek out a drink in the morning in order to feel better or straighten yourself out
  • Getting drunk at an occasion that calls for sobriety
  • Can’t sleep without taking a few drinks
  • Inability to recall events even when sober
  • Blackouts—or dead spots where there is no memory of events while drinking

If any of these descriptions resonate with you, you may be an alcoholic.

The Good News Is, There’s Hope

There is no known cure for alcoholism and addiction. An alcoholic is an alcoholic for life. In many cases, a relapse may cause even more damage than previous episodes, serving to remind us that no matter how far we try to run, alcoholism is always with us.

As dark as this may sound, there is hope. The first step opens the door to recovery. Once you can admit to another individual that you have a problem, that you are certain that you are an alcoholic and that you are willing to do something about it, you are prepared to receive the benefits that come from sober living. Only complete and total sobriety can return our lives to some semblance of normalcy. It is at this stage we can begin to heal the wrongs we have caused by our drinking and begin working toward a brighter future.

Sober Living in Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.