Step 1

Step One of the Twelve Steps of Recovery


Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.


Understanding Step 1

Step 1 is about acceptance of our condition.  When we "admitted we were powerless," and we accepted our condition. To complete the 1st step we need to understand both powerlessness and unmanageability:


"Powerlessness" is the recurrent failure to control our behaviour. Proof of our powerlessness is achieved outside of A.A. -- if we are not convinced that we are alcoholic then we may need to try a little more controlled drinking to convince ourselves that we cannot drink normally.  Within A.A. this is known as "research".


"Unmanageability" is the continuation of the addictive behaviour despite negative consequences.

Working Step 1

Essential Reading

The Doctor's Opinion chapter in the book Alcoholics Anonymous provides a medical view of addiction to alcohol.  It is essential reading for anyone trying to decide whether or not they are alcoholic.  It is written by a Dr William D. Silkworth MD who worked with thousands of alcoholics.

Practical advice for taking Step 1

As part of working step 1 we recommend reading Step 1 of AA's Book, "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", and discussing it with another person in recovery.  

Powerless Over Alcohol?

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 31