Step 1

Step 1

In Consideration of Step One

By Charlotte Safir, LCDC

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

Of all the Steps, this is the one that sets the stage for recovery to happen. Consequently, resistance, rebellion and delusion, as well as the unwillingness to be rigorously honest, are some of the components that keep us from recovery, from being willing to surrender to the reality of this step.

Step One is the foundation of recovery. It is the platform on which an entirely new life can be built. Wherever we do not stay current in our experience with this step, for it is not about knowledge, that is where we will relapse into drinking and using. Through the refreshing review about no control, no choice and no power, it is possible to experience this vital step at a deeper and deeper level.

What should you suggest if one of your patients finds their child unconscious? Stay calm and call 911. Suggest they try to look around for a can, rag or bag to identify what product was being abused and to let the healthcare professionals know. They should not leave the child alone; if conscious, the child should be kept in a calm, well-ventilated area.

When we lose our truth in the first step, we fall prey to the idea that we can drink or use successfully. It is not uncommon that over time the rebuilding of the ego, self knowledge and pride has the power to convince us that one of something will not hurt.

On first application of the steps, we might readily admit to powerlessness and unmanageability; however as time passes and we mistakenly think that because outside circumstances have calmed and therefore life is manageable again, complacency forms as evidenced not only by the lack of interest in completing the steps but reworking the steps. The “I know” mentality of the ego creates a barrier to looking at where we are currently with no control, no choice, and no power.

The benefits of reworking this step, in conjunction with all of the steps, are part of “continuing to grow in understanding and effectiveness”. Through the excavating process of this step, we gain more peace, acceptance and deepen the relationship to the Power that keeps us sober while gaining a healthy respect for the disease of alcoholism and addiction. When active in the disease, we stayed current, if not through daily use, we were never far from what we used. In recovery, the same holds true, we must be willing to stay current in our experience and understanding of the step that is the catalyst for making recovery possible.

Where are you with Step One today?


1. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (New York City: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1939), 59.