An addicts experience with Alcoholics Anonymous’ first step: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The First Step Alcoholics Anonymous
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
I remember the first time that I heard those words, at a treatment center in Connecticut when I was 21 years old. After a two year stint of heavy drinking and drug use, my parents had sent me to rehab after they discovered I had stolen pain pills from our medicine cabinet. At the time, I knew that my drinking and drug use was getting out of control and that drugs and alcohol had a profound effect on me.
But powerless? That seemed extreme. And while I was willing to admit that my life was becoming difficult to manage, I didn’t think it was at the point of unmanageability. I left that treatment center confident that I would be able to handle my drug and alcohol problem on my own.
Four years later, it was a different story. I continued drinking and using after I left that treatment center, and my life kept spiraling more and more out of control. It seemed that anything I touched, I destroyed – relationships, jobs, opportunities. The consequences of my addictions were becoming impossible to ignore. Any sense of self worth, self esteem or self respect was long gone, drowned by the increasingly insane amount of substances I was putting into my body on a daily basis. It was a dark time.
It was in that darkness that I thought back on those words I had heard years before: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
“First Step Prayer”
Dear Lord, Help me to see and admit that I am powerless over my alcoholism. Help me to understand how my alcoholism has led to unmanageability in my life. Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness. Remove from me all denial of my alcoholism.In a moment of clarity, I was finally able to see the truth in that sentence. That I was completely and utterly powerless over my addictions and that my life was completely out of my control.
It’s called the first step for a reason. Coming to grips with those words was the first step that I took out of the darkness and into the light. It wasn’t an easy or a proud thing to admit, but once I admitted it I was able to begin healing.
Five years into my recovery, I still relate to the first step in a profound way. While I have a bit of time under my belt, I am (and always will be) powerless over alcohol. If I forget that, it is only a matter of time that I end up where I started: with a completely unmanageable life.