First Step Explained
The principle of the first step is self-honesty. We get honest with ourselves over our inability to beat our addiction on our own. We must admit we do not have the power to control our addiction, and that our lives have become completely unmanageable.
In order to fully understand our powerlessness, however, we need to understand why we are powerless over our addiction. What exactly does it mean to be powerless?
When working the first step with a sponsor, this is generally when we flip to the chapter called The Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The chapter has two letters from a prestigious doctor who was treating alcoholics at the time the Big Book was written. In his years of experience, the doctor had come to understand that alcoholism (and we would say all addiction), is a two-part illness: It is both an obsession of the mind, and an allergy of the body.
What does this mean?
Part One – Our mind is a trickster. Left untreated, our mind will always, time and time and time again, tell us that it is ok to take the first drink or drug. Our mind tricks us, convincing us that “this time it will be different.” Or “Maybe it wasn’t so bad.” “Maybe I can control it.” “Maybe I could just drink on weekends.” “Maybe if I just stick with wine instead of liquor.” “I’ll only use this one time” Maybe if I just snort it and not shoot it” etc. etc. Our addicted mind is consistently and persistently trying to convince us that we are not addicts or alcoholics — that we can take that first drink or drug.
The Big Book says that “The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.”