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Step One of AA (or any 12 step program)

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

First of all, if you're reading this contemplating if you need to be reading it or feel like you should be sober but you're scared and not sure - that is absolutely normal and are completely valid feelings to have; and you're not alone. Second of all, welcome home to recovery.

The thought and vibe of being powerless fucking sucks, right? It's scary, feels gross and lame, and as alcoholics, addicts, sober curious people - we love and thrive on control. Which is why a lot of us get freaked out when we read step 1.

But hear me out, admitting you are powerless over your drug of choice (mine being alcohol) is the first step to getting REAL control over your life.

For me, alcohol ruled everything: my finances, mood, anxiety, relationships, standards, work ethic, fitness routine, diet, weight, plans; it consumed all of my time - everything came AFTER the drink I was looking for.

While drinking my thoughts and mindset were mostly as follows:

What can I get out of today?

What can I get out of this friendship or relationship?

What can I get out of this job?

What store was I going to after work?

How much do I need?

Do I have enough for two days so I don't have to drunk drive? (which I also did a lot of).

What do I need to not smell like alcohol? New perfume or febreeze?

Why do I feel like shit?

Are my organs ok?

What the hell did I say and do last night?

Why is my partner mad? Shit, do they know I have a problem? Did I dump them?

Wait do I have a problem?

- but you get the point... and not only did this show I was powerless over alcohol and life decisions, but it also showed that my life had become unmanageable in many areas. I also noticed this because my non-addict friends didn't have these kinds of thoughts and problems. They woke up on time and knew what they did last night. They had healthier relationships. And most importantly they haven't isolated the way I was isolating myself.

And the only thing that allowed me to break and stop these controlling and time-consuming thoughts & way of life, was to put the bottle down (& by bottle I mean the 5 bottles of vodka and whiskey I had stashed all over my apartment and car).

I started to gain power when I admitted I was powerless over alcohol & could not & did not want to manage my way of life anymore.

Certain powers I got back were:

My anxiety lessened and I learned tools to control it (my BIGGEST and most noticeable thing to happen)

What I spent (both my time and money)

What my thoughts were in general

I was able to make space and time for healthy thoughts

My relationships (friends and family) became clearer to me

I was capable of setting healthy boundaries

My work (being on time and how much I could accomplish)

Had the time to set new goals

Met real friends that like me for sober me and didn't expect anything from me in exchange for a friendship

A normal diet (after a month of sugar binging, which is completely normal here).

Time to make and reach new goals that included health and life in recovery

-and a hell of a lot of other things.

Without Step 1, we can't start to recover; because we're still giving in to the power that our drug of choice has over us.

It can look a lot like:

Promising yourself or others that you won't drink today.

Controlled drinking (only drinking on certain days, only drinking certain kinds of alcohol)

Ending up drinking without thinking about it (passing a bar and then just stopping for 'one' because you had a hard day or you worked really hard & 'deserve' it, but end up drunk)

Having a gut feeling knowing you need to stop but cannot. Calling into work or flaking on friends because you want to drink

Not knowing the difference between reality and what's going on in your mind (thinking you're fine, thinking you can control it, thinking you don't have a problem, etc.)

A great (and scientific and popular) tool that I used to self-diagnose this disease was the Johns Hopkins 20 questions. A PDF of this tool can be found right here.

Now the results of this questionnaire can be jarring and make you feel sick and sad, but it is so important to remember that we are NOT bad people - we're just sick (and that's okay). It's okay because there are programs (like the 12 steps) to help us, there are people just like us, with our story, with our struggles all over the world. There are more than 110,000 groups of AA all over the world that are easily accessible.

You are not alone, and if you want recovery - you can have recovery.

You deserve recovery.

You're not alone in this.

You can do this.

Your story is valid - it may be ugly and include pain and horrible things - but you are not a horrible person and there are people that will listen to those things and STILL accept and respect you as a human.

And most importantly, they will help you heal from those things.

My favorite 12 step slogans for Step One are:

"We will love you until you can love yourself"

"We Strive For Progress Not Perfection"

If you're ready to ask for help or feel like you need help but you're scared, truly feel free to reach out via my email or on Instagram. We can find an online meeting and go together and find meetings that fit who you are (the options are endless!)

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