Step 1 A A. Why the 12-step Journey Begins with Powerlessness

But the terminal stages of addiction will strip everything away, and an addicted person who refuses to recover will often be left with nothing. As we go through the process of Step One, we are moving from a lack of awareness into an awareness of the reality of this disease and the possibility of change. We are beginning to believe that we are capable of living in a different way. Not all peer-led mutual support organizations believe in this idea of powerlessness.

  • Recovery is a multifaceted approach to addressing addiction that requires serious life reflection and commitment to change.
  • It allows for justification and rationalization, such as “I have a disease.
  • The addiction has worn away at your self-control and self-discipline.
  • We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • AA members believe they cannot control their drinking without the help of a higher power.

Understanding powerless, that I had no choice, changed my life. It wasn’t until I had a full understanding of this word that my spiritual journey really was able to begin. It also made me realize that I’m not a bad person or a weak person. I saw that I was worse than I knew, but understanding the problem helped me accept the solution.

The Power in the First Step: Accepting Powerlessness

This understanding of the word obsession explains why we keep going back to pick up the first drink or drug. It makes so much sense when we look back at our behaviors—the threat of relationships ending, poor health, work-life, bad decisions, legal trouble, etc. We’re powerless when our mind is obsessing, so it’s nearly impossible to make the right decision. I remember the first time I attended a 12-step recovery meeting. I was there to listen to one of my clients tell her story at a treatment center. This was many years before I ever came to realize that I myself needed to be a member of the same fellowship.

Other 12-step programs include Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and others. These groups use similar principles, but each has its own unique approach. The Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Big Book states that “we were powerless over our drug problem” as its first tenet. Like AA members, NA members Recovery Gift Guide, Sober Gift Guide believe they cannot control drugs without the help of a higher power. It’s not easy to admit this, but if we don’t accept that we are powerless, then we won’t be able to move forward. We live in a society that tells us we should be able to figure out our problems and overcome challenges on our own; that if we can’t, we’re weak.

Understanding Powerlessness

Additionally, the powerlessness referred to in the First Step also refers to the fact that the addict will continue using drugs and alcohol despite the consequences they may encounter. These consequences can be physical, emotional and psychological in nature, and can also include economic and legal consequences as well. With that said, there is often some confusion about apprehension towards the steps and the concept of powerlessness.

examples of powerlessness in recovery

Addiction treatment centers discuss the concept of powerlessness in therapy to help people recover. One of the most significant benefits of embracing powerlessness in sobriety is finding freedom and inner peace. When we let go of the illusion of control, we free ourselves from the constant struggle to manipulate and manage every aspect of our lives. This liberation allows us to live more authentically, accepting ourselves and our circumstances as they are. By embracing powerlessness, we can focus on the present moment and find peace within ourselves.

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It frees you up to focus your time and energy on things that are within your control. Perhaps you are familiar with the words of the Serenity Prayer, which is commonly recited at AA meetings. In our recovery programs for men in Colorado, we work on this step.

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