One Small Step Today…One Giant Leap for the Rest of Your Life

The First Step


Since I promised a step a month for the 12 Steps of AA I need to address steps 1 & 2 this month. After the busy holiday season (yes I know it’s February), January completely slipped passed me and now I’m playing catch up.  I’m sure some of you can relate, but if you can’t then please share your secret with me.

As we move forward in reviewing each of the 12 Steps, I want to make a couple things clear. While the steps are a proven path to accomplishing sobriety there are no ‘shoulds’ and there is no ‘timeline’ for working them.  There is no guideline for how long a person spends on each step or how long breaks should be between steps. Step work comes in it’s own time and is completed in it’s own time.  Recovering addicts have been known to return to steps already worked or never stop as they become ingrained in everyday life.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol

The First Step Toward Sobriety

Whether attempting sobriety for the first time or returning after a relapse it can be scary and embarrassing to admit needing help.  This makes Step 1 a challenge for people. 

This first step states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” 

Some approaches to take that will help you navigate Step 1:

  • Speak at an AA meeting. Speakers are required to state their name as well as that he/she is an alcoholic. The first time might be scary, but every time after is practicing Step 1 and admitting you have a problem with alcohol.
  • Sometimes, newly recovering addicts keep their desire to drink secret out of shame or thinking they’re not supposed to be tempted. This can lead to a slip or relapse. By letting someone know you’re are having a hard time, you admit to having a problem you cannot control yourself. 
  • Add additional supports like a counselor or an AA sponsor. By seeking help, you admit to being powerless to stop drinking on your own.  A counselor can help you learn strategies to stop using alcohol and can also be a person you reach out to when you’re tempted to use.  Getting an AA sponsor can help you connect with someone with long term experience overcoming the desire to use alcohol.
  • If you do use, tell someone. Keeping mistakes to yourself only makes it appear you’re in control when you’re not.  Reaching out to a sponsor or other safe person can be a way of admitting you are powerless over alcohol.

Although Step 1 is the first step toward sobriety, AA members may study and work this step many times over.  Whether it’s a revisit after a slip in sobriety or periodic review, this step is a reminder that you will always be powerless over alcohol.  Working the 12 Steps of AA provides that layer of support to acquire tools, strategies and connection with other’s to help you achieve sobriety.