Step 1 of the 12 Steps is about breaking through your denial and facing the consequences of your addictions.
We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
The first step in your recovery involves going to 12 step meetings, finding a sponsor and working through the 12 steps with your sponsor. A sponsor is someone in the program that has more clean time than you and has already worked through the 12 steps with their sponsor.
It is important abstain to start the working the 12 steps.
What is Step 1 About?
Step 1 teaches you about the disease of addiction. It teaches you that you cannot be cured but you can manage your addiction by working your recovery program.
Step 1 starts you on your journey to break through the denial of your problem. You do this by looking at the consequences of your addiction, assessing the damages you have done. Every addict has caused damage in almost every aspect of his/ her life. We have lost jobs, been evicted from our homes and damaged our relationships. A lot of us have been arrested for things such as drunken driving, possession of narcotics or theft.
Most of us come into the program because of a particular event or series of events, very often this is what we call our Rock Bottom. While working Step 1 you will look at what brought you to this point.
Until we came into the program we most likely believed we could deal with our problem on our own, that we could control our problem. Step 1 addresses our powerlessness over our addiction. It takes us through the ways we tried (and failed) to do things our way. If we continue to try and do things our way on our own, the result will just be the same. We will continue to use and continue to cause damage to ourselves and others.
On a personal note I can say that my addiction reached and contaminated every part of my life. I couldn’t have a healthy relationship with anyone. This was partly due to my actual behaviour in the relationship, the way I treated others. But another aspect is that no healthy man would ever have considered me a viable partner, the only men interested in me were as sick as I was. The applied to friendships. The only people that would have anything to do with me were addicts, alcoholics and mentally unhealthy people.
Every addict fears not being able to use every again. This fear holds us back and prevents us from seeking recovery.Perhaps we are too ashamed to admit to our problem, too scared what others will think of us if they know we are an addict? I can guarantee you that going for help doesn’t mean that they will find out then that you have a problem. I am sure everyone knows, usually the addict/ alcoholic is the last one to realise! We go through all our reservations and concerns about getting clean and being in recovery.
Step 1 also helps us Surrender. There is a difference between resignation and surrender. Resignation is what we feel when we realise we are addicts but we haven’t accepted recovery as the answer to our problem. Surrender is when we accept the First Step is true for us and accept that recovery is the solution to our problem. We want to recover and we want to live a different life.
Each Step in the 12 Steps focuses on spiritual principles.
Spiritual Principles of Step 1
- Honesty: we admit to ourselves we are an addict. We continue to be honest on a daily basis.
- Open-mindedness: being ready to believe there may be another way to live and being willing to try it out.
- Willingness: being willing to go to meetings, to follow our sponsor’s suggestions and to give recovery our best shot
- Humility: acceptance of who we truly are. Not believing ourselves to be less or more than we actually are.
- Acceptance: when we accept our addiction there is an profound inner change. We start to feel a sense of peace and a sense of hope. Through acceptance recovery can become a precious gift.
My Personal Experience of Step 1
The truth about any addict’s rock bottom is that unless you are dead you can always dig deeper. This was true for me. Every time I thought I was at my lowest point I could be I still managed to carry on and make more of a mess of my life.
I bumped into someone I knew from school (yes 15 years after leaving school) and she asked how I was doing. I told her I had just come out of rehab and her response was “Thank God, it’s about time!”. Yes, everyone knows long before you do! It took me 15 years to come to my realization.
I couldn’t get clean until I was ready to, to get to this point I had to rack up a lot of consequences and damages first. I had to get to a place where I couldn’t sit with my blinkers on anymore and pretend (to myself and to others) that I didn’t have a problem. It is when I had nowhere to wiggle to, now way to get out of things, that I came to a place where I was ready to admit my problem.
This was a scary place for me, but it is also the place where I started to move forward for the what felt like the first time in my life and not backwards.
If you have any questions about Step 1 or have anything you would like to add please leave a comment.