Index | Step 2
"We admitted we were powerless over our dual illness of chemical
dependency and emotional or psychiatric illness - that our lives had
|A core principle behind the First
Step is recognizing that we have two chronic disorders--chemical
dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. These two
no-fault illnesses are creating big problems in our lives. That
everyway we have tried to cope with these problems has not worked.
We simply cannot do it alone. Help is required.
IN OUR OWN WORDS: Members
share their thoughts on the First Step
I was in treatment they had us draw up timelines of our drinking and
drugging history and timelines of our psychiatric history. Latter, we
compared these two timelines. It clearly showed me how my use of alcohol
and drugs was directly related to my depression and medication issues.
For me, the
First Step was about honestly recognizing that I had serious problems that
I simply could not deal with by myself. I tried everything and just kept
digging myself in a deeper hole. I'd quit drinking for awhile but
eventually I'd get so wound up and pissed off that I'd smoke some weed or
start drinking again just to cool off. Pretty soon I'd be drunk again.
Then I'd forget to take my meds. I hated the things I did when I was like
that. I scared my wife and children. I worried my parents near to death.
I'd end up in jail or the psych ward--and I'd do this over and over again
no matter how ashamed and disgusted I was with myself. The harder I tried
to control my drinking the worse it got.
Taking the First Step was a huge
relief for me. Yes, I was an addict. Yes, I had bipolar disorder. I
already knew all that. But by working with my sponsor and hearing other
people at meetings share their stories, I realized I didn't have to be
strong enough to deal with all these things all by myself. In fact, I
learned that I could not. Willpower had nothing to do with it. It was like
a big wall came down inside of me so that I could let other people know I
needed help. That didn't make me a bad or weak person, but a sick person
who wanted to get well.
First Step... well, you can't do anything about a problem unless you
really honestly believe it is a problem. If you don't think there's a
problem, you know -- nothing changes. You also have to understand it
correctly so you can start making the right choices. Like, if I blamed my
drinking on my boyfriend or my boss, I'm looking in the wrong direction. I
could try and change them all day and I'd only end up drunk over it. See,
once you realize you have a problem, you must also identify the cause and
true nature of the problem or you will likely waste a lot of time and
energy chasing the wrong solutions while your real problems just gets
a really hard time believing that my drinking and drugging were causing
more problems than they were solving. I drank to kill painful feelings...
frightening feelings. I felt like drinking and using was what was keeping
me functional and sane. What I didn't or wouldn't see was that alcohol and
street drugs reacted with my medications in some pretty strange ways. They
also added to my depression over time until I finally became psychotic.
Though drinking gave me some seeming temporary relief from my inner pain,
it made it impossible to heal or treat the root of those feelings
correctly. While working through Step One, I finally began to put two and
two together and I began seeing a clearer picture of these cause and
I kept relapsing my first couple
years around the program. I'd get clean and get my meds dialed in and go
for a month or two and then relapse big time for a few days. The deal was
that I always had a little doubt left when I worked the First Step. I
always had this little twinkling thought that maybe I really didn't have a
schizoaffective disorder. Like somehow it was a mistake or a temporary
thing. Now I know that the point of the First Step is to remove ALL doubt.
It wasn't until I fully accepted the reality and seriousness of my mental
illness, that I finally became empowered to start dealing with it in a
constructive and healthy way. Only then was I able to build up any
appreciable clean and sober time.
always thought that if I could just stop using I would be ok. That wasn't
even the issue. I knew how to stop--it's called running out of blow or
crank or whiskey. What I didn't know how to do was to stay stopped.
Working Step One made that perfectly clear to me... I didn't have a clue
how to stay stopped. Plus, I had never once thought about doing it
forever. Thank God I had heard in a meeting about the One Day at a Time
concept. I only had to not pick up or drink for today. Tomorrow is another
day and I can do it again for that day.
It was hard
for me to accept that my body processed alcohol and mood altering drugs
different than most other people. I had always thought that if I could
just get my anxiety and other symptoms under control, I could then drink
and use like my friends. I had to go out and put my doubts to the test
several times. Finally, after a short stint in jail and a long stay in the
hospital, I surrendered to the idea that no matter what, I just can't take
that first sip of booze or hit on the pipe. Once I do I just can't stop.
The first time I introduced
myself as an addict at a meeting I felt a profound shift inside myself--a
new sense of hopefulness. I guess until that moment I was still stuck in
the middle of Step One somewhere. I could not yet see a solution to my
Index | Step 2
*Adapted from the Twelve Steps of
*The Twelve Steps of AA are
reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services,
Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that AA has
reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with
the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only -
use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities that are
patterned after AA, but that address other problems, does not imply otherwise.
THE FIRST STEP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS* 1. We admitted we were powerless over
alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step Discussion Booklet - This is a printable booklet of this Step
Discussion section of the web site in Adobe Reader (PDF) file format.