Step One

Step One

Recovery Today shares our favorite tips and humor for people traipsing the Road of Happy Destiny.

Admitting powerlessness and defeat is of the utmost importance in the Twelve Step approach to recovery – Step One in all of the Twelve Step fellowships expresses the need for an admission of powerlessness and unmanageability. It was only a firm conviction that I was defenseless and truly powerless that finally convinced me to summon the determination to begin the Twelve Steps and recover from my addiction.

Every time I drank alcohol, I became menacingly drunk. Why could I simply not start drinking? Time after time, I would drink – each time experiencing even greater problems. In an unrecovered state, I had no mental defense against my first drink. The problem was not my lack of knowledge or understanding. The problem was my lack of power.

In order to begin my path to recovery, I had to admit two things: I was truly powerless and unable to control when I would engage in my problem behavior and how long I would engage in it. I had to surrender to some type of miraculous intervention – a power from outside myself – or I was doomed to repeat this destructive behavior.

I also had to admit that my life had become unmanageable. For me, there were two distinct types of unmanageability. First, I began to experience the outward effects of my behavior. If I drank, I got DUIs and hangovers, and I lost jobs. When I overate, I gained weight and became unhealthy. If I gambled, I lost money I needed to pay bills. The outward manifestation of my problem was apparent to those closest to me, and it caused financial setbacks and damage to my closest relationships. I failed to live up to what I believed was my potential.

The effects of my inner unmanageability were even worse. I was uncomfortable with myself and my environment, and I could not control my quality of life. I was unable to follow through on promises or commitments. I suffered feelings of shame, guilt, resentment, frustration, depression, anxiety and irritability. Those feelings dominated me spiritually and emotionally, leaving little hope for true happiness.

Fortunately, there is hope for the unmanageable life of addiction. As I began to experience recovery, I began to understand how sick I really was. Healing from my spiritual malady continues year after year, as I practice the Twelve Steps. Every year that I engage in recovery disciplines, the quality of my life significantly improves.

Chris Schroeder lives with his wife, Andrea, in Meriden, Connecticut. For over 20 years, he has consulted with treatment centers and lectured worldwide on recovery-related topics. He manages a facilities department at a pharmaceutical research and development site in New England.


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