Step 1

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

“Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness…But upon entering AA, we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be the firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 21.

AA’s first step reveals deep insight into the human condition. Driven by ego (the false self), we are desperate be in control. If we’re in control, we will survive.

The irony here, of course, we as addicted people used substances and behaviors to convince ourselves we were in control. And those very substances and behaviors were killing us. Mind, body, and spirit.

With the Twelve Steps, we’re presented with an entirely opposing view of life – that only surrendering and admitting our powerlessness over the disease – are we able to find freedom from it.

The universal truth is that none of us can control our lives 100%. Life happens. And much of life is difficult. What is in our control is how we respond to the difficulties of life.

Just how do we respond to life’s changes and chances? How do we live one day at a time, not resorting to substances and behaviors to numb our feelings of powerlessness or convince ourselves we’ve got life by the horns? How do we conceive of walking a life of freedom, contentment, and even joy? The following eleven steps of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous proceed to teach us how to do just that.

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