How To Work Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or drugs, sex, gambling, eating, shopping, etc.) – that our lives had become unmanageable.

For a lot of people, walking into a treatment center or 12-step meeting for the first time is equivalent to working step one. The simple act of asking for help is, in and of itself, an admission of powerlessness and unmanageability. There is much more that an addict can do to fully work Step One. Most of this work is designed to unearth the addict’s complete history of use and abuse. In this way, he or she is able to see – usually for the first time – the totality of his or her addiction and its directly related negative life consequences. 

Task One: Consequences Inventory

For many addicts and alcoholics addiction builds slowly over time, making it difficult to actually see how life has changed. Consequences that even a casual outside observer could readily identify as severe have gradually become "normal". This makes the Insanity of addiction looks perfectly ordinary to the addict. The easiest way to break through the fog of addiction is to create a list of consequences related to the behavior. In creating your consequences inventory you should list as many items as possible, breaking the list down into the following categories:

  • Emotional Consequences
  • Physical Consequences
  • Spiritual Consequences
  • Family and Partnership Consequences
  • Career and Educational Consequences
  • Other Consequence

Task Two: Powerlessness Inventory

Generate at least 30 examples of your powerlessness over your addictive behavior. In other words, list examples of your inability to stop your behavior despite obvious consequences. 

Task Three: Unmanageability Inventory

Generate at least 30 examples that demonstrate how your life has become unmanageable. In other words, list ways in which your addiction has created chaos and destruction in your life.