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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on June 16, 2023
4 min read

Alcoholics Anonymous 1st Step

What is the 1st Step of AA?

The first of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program is: ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.’

Each step aims to help people with substance use disorders (SUDs) on their road to recovery and sobriety. Because healing is not linear, AA encourages its members to revisit the steps at any point during recovery.

Many people consistently study and work on the first step throughout their journey. AA considers it the foundation for all positive changes in recovery.

What Does the 1st Step of AA Mean?

The first step refers to accepting powerlessness over alcohol. Additionally, it urges people to accept that their addictions must be managed rather than controlled. 

Many people return to this step if they relapse or experience a slip in sobriety. Others check it periodically to remind themselves that they will always be powerless over addiction. Revisiting the steps can help many people remember that they must constantly work to remain sober.


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4 Ways to Follow Step 1 of AA

There are several ways to follow step one of AA. These include: 

1. Speak Up at an AA Meeting

Many AA meetings allow members to speak about their experiences. Before speaking, you must give your first name and state that you are an alcoholic.

Speaking for the first time at an AA meeting can be daunting. However, each time you do, you admit to yourself and your peers that you have a SUD.

2. Tell Someone If You Feel Like Drinking

If you desire to drink, you may be inclined to keep it a secret because you feel ashamed. However, if you don’t share your feelings with others, you may increase the chances of relapsing.

Admitting to someone you are struggling with sobriety means following step one in AA. You cannot control your addiction. Therefore you have to manage it.

3. Meet a Counselor 

If you reach out to a counselor or seek addiction treatment for your SUD, you admit that you are powerless against your addiction. Your counselor can act as a confidant and help you learn methods and strategies to stop drinking.

Some people may prefer to rely on an AA sponsor. An AA sponsor is someone you trust will listen to you and help you when you have the urge to drink.

They are someone who has overcome alcoholism. They are also a resource to help you during recovery.

4. Tell Someone If You Do Drink

If you drink, always confide in someone, as it’s another way of admitting you are powerless against alcohol. While you may feel ashamed, keeping your relapse to yourself makes recovery harder.

Questions to Ask Yourself While Following Step 1 of AA 

When following step one of AA, there are several helpful questions to ask yourself:

  • What does addiction mean to me? 
  • How has my disease affected me in different ways? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Financially? 
  • How does the self-centered part of my addiction affect my life and the life of my loved ones and family members?
  • Have I blamed other people for my behavior? 
  • What does unmanageability mean to me?
  • Have I compared my addiction with other people’s? 

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How to Join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 

Only you can decide whether you would like to try the AA program. Before joining, determine if you feel alcohol has become a problem.

If you need help with your SUD and want to join AA, attend a meeting. AA meetings often take place in public buildings. These locations include:

  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Coffee shops
  • Restaurants

Open meetings are open to anyone interested in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program, whether or not they are struggling with addiction. Closed meetings are for AA members only who have a drinking problem. 

There are various types of AA meetings, including:

  • Speaker meetings: AA members share their AUD experiences, how they discovered the program, and their recovery. These meetings typically focus on sharing and listening rather than interaction
  • Discussion meetings: Once at a time, participants speak about their experiences and struggles with alcohol. Then, they discuss their addiction experience with AA and other alcohol-related issues. This type of meeting is more interactive than a speaker meeting
  • Step meetings: Members discuss one of the twelve traditions and steps in depth

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What’s After Step 1?

Once you’re in AA and have completed step 1, it’s time to move on to step 2. Step 2 dives deeper into your identity, spirituality, and admissions. 

The purpose of step 2 is to help people understand that you aren’t alone and that there is hope for your sobriety and future.

Updated on June 16, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on June 16, 2023
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