Taking Step One: Admitting Your Powerlessness in Recovery

People become addicted to alcohol and drugs for any number of reasons. For some, it begins as curiosity about recreational substance abuse and being enticed by intoxication. Others start out by taking it upon themselves to increase the dosage of medications prescribed for legitimate conditions, which results in the medicine being much less effective and the development of physical dependence. 

There are also a number of individuals who become substance abusers and addicts due to their circumstances or an environment, having been exposed to alcohol and drug abuse previously. No matter what leads an individual to become addicted, the result is that he or she must continue to seek and consume the substance of choice in order to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay and continue to function somewhat normally.

Although addiction is a chronic, progressive disease of the brain, individuals can overcome chemical dependency by utilizing a variety of the available recovery tools. Addiction treatment programs are intended to help individuals regain their sobriety through counseling and psychotherapy, group sessions, and a variety of skills-building therapies that address the specific effects of addiction. 

However, since the creation of the original twelve-step group in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s numerous derivative groups have played an essential part in countless individuals’ recoveries. The quantifiable data concerning the efficacy of the twelve-step method might be scarce, but the reality is that many individuals who have participated in a twelve-step program have been able to achieve lasting sobriety as a direct result of the program and its Twelve Steps.

Conceptualized as a roadmap that guides individuals toward a state of physical and spiritual recovery, the Twelve Steps are meant to be followed, or worked, in sequential order, allowing members of twelve-step programs to progress to a place of lasting sobriety.

Although each of the steps are important in their own way, working the Twelve Steps is a cumulative process with each successive step building and depending upon one’s success in completing the previous step. As such, an individual must be able to complete the first of the Twelve Steps before he or she can advance, making the First Step critical in one’s recovery success when using the twelve-step method.

Step 1: Admitting Powerlessness in Recovery to Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson is credited with conceptualizing the Twelve Steps, which are first iterated in “the Big Book,” or what was originally titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism. In the Big Book, the First Step is worded as follows: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

This admission of being unable to combat the encompassing influence of alcohol—or some other mind-altering, chemical substance—is an essential yet basic first step, requiring the individual to basically accept his or her addiction as reality rather than minimizing the severity of the situation or attempting to justify substance abuse as a necessary behavior.

In short, the First Step sees the individual admitting to being unable to control his or her consumption behavior, which has caused him or her much undue hardship. Over the course of active addiction, individuals bring upon themselves extensive deterioration of physical health as well as financial hardship, and damage to or loss of important relationships.

The power that alcohol or drugs have had over an individual has resulted in profound destruction to his or her life and likely to the lives of loved ones as well. As such, the First Step initiates the process of restoring power to the individual rather than the individual retaining his or her powerlessness in recovery to the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Power of Denial

Denial could be considered a trademark or characteristic behavior of individuals who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, which is why admitting one’s powerlessness in recovery is such a crucial first step in the twelve-step method of recovery. Though it’s sometimes a useful coping mechanism that prevents individuals from feeling overwhelmed during times of abrupt change, denial can be harmful in certain instances and can’t be used to solve one’s problems.

Denial stems from the desire to make our circumstances or experiences more palatable, which can involve minimizing, rationalizing, self-deception, forgetting, or even repressing harsh facts. In the case of alcohol and drug addiction, individuals tend to feel guilt or shame for having developed a dependency, wanting to avoid judgment from others or loved ones’ insistence that they enter a treatment program. However, it’s common for addicts’ denial to be so intense that they convince themselves that their substance abuse is still within their control.

Why the First Step is an Important Part of Recovery

Since denial prevents addicts from accepting the reality of their addictions, they are unable to begin the recovery process since they convince themselves they don’t have a problem with alcohol or drugs. As such, one’s admission of the reality of an alcohol or drug addiction means that he or she is embracing the disease and recognizes the need to recover. While in denial, addiction continues to hold power over those who are addicted; however, accepting the reality of the addiction is an important first step in taking back the power, or in overcoming the powerlessness in recovery.

Moreover, accepting the reality of one’s powerlessness to alcohol or drugs means recognizing that he or she has not been in control and that fear of not being in control has led to using substance abuse to avoid anxiety, loneliness, and other alienating feelings. Acceptance of the reality and severity of an addiction means becoming receptive to positive life changes and healthier coping strategies. The First Step of accepting powerlessness in recovery is also an important primer for the completion of subsequent steps.

Take the First Step Toward a Better Life with Drug Treatment Center Finder

Recovery is a long journey that is comprised of a series of progressive steps toward achieving lasting sobriety. However, twelve-step programs have resulted in recovery success for countless individuals. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to learn more about twelve-step recovery or addiction treatment programs, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Call today at 855-619-8070 to speak to one of our caring recovery specialists who can help individuals find the treatments they need to return to lives of sobriety, health, and happiness.

Staff Writer :