It is not difficult to overestimate the amount of control we have over our lives, particularly when addiction is involved. When most people begin abusing drugs or alcohol, they truly believe they can limit their use. They are convinced they are recreational users who take drugs and alcohol because that is what they want, not what they need. This is why hitting rock bottom plays such a large role in addiction. As addiction begins to overtake your life, you lie to yourself about what is happening. Unfortunately, many cannot shatter that illusion until they hit rock bottom and are confronted with undeniable proof that everything is not okay. Only then do they feel that powerlessness that comes from addiction.

Deirdre also has a Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology. Deirdre has extensive experience in mental health and treating substance use disorder related issues.

Myths and Misunderstandings About AA Step 1

Clearly, the founders of AA had something different in mind when they enshrined admitting powerlessness as the first step. Admitting you’re powerless over alcohol simply means that if you get in the ring with alcohol, powerless over alcohol alcohol is going to win, probably in the first round. Alcohol is such a strong trigger that drinking any amount will automatically lead to more drinking. The good news is that you can choose not to get in the ring.

what does it mean to be powerless over alcohol

This step of accepting powerlessness from the 12-Step process of recovery essentially highlights the power of drugs and alcohol over our lives. Few people intend to destroy their lives and relationships by drinking or doing drugs, but that is what can happen with addiction. These substances literally rewire brain function, making the need to satisfy a craving take prominence over everything else in life–regardless of the consequences.

The meaning of powerless in the first step of AA

Vanessa is a Montgomery County native who spends her free time traveling with her daughter and volunteering in the community. Insomnia is a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal, especially in the early stages of recovery. In fact, sleep disturbances can persist for months despite continued abstinence. Some studies have shown that sleep disturbances can increase the chance of relapsing…. Step 1 is your first lesson in challenging your ego, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and taking a hard look at the state of your life. Someone realizes or admits they have a problem they might still be unwilling to make the necessary changes.

Any admission that you are powerless over your addiction should be accompanied by a huge sigh of relief because you never have to find yourself in this situation again. You have not only admitted there is a problem, but by also seeking help you have already begun to address the issue. By letting others guide you through treatment and recovery, you are that much closer to a happier and healthier life. That is why so many people find Step One so freeing. After all, you cannot escape the chains that bind you until you acknowledge that there are, in fact, chains, and someone else holds the key to unlocking them.

Take Control of Addiction

Letting go of the past, accepting your present and opening yourself up to a new way of living isn’t an easy thing to do, especially in the beginning. The 12-step road to recovery can appear pretty intimidating to someone who is just starting out, but solutions exist. As a fellow substance abuser, I know how much we love to take risks; we risk our life every day to get our next fix. Drinking and drugging make me ‘mentally deficient’ because I’m prioritizing my next drink before my income, my education, and my relationships. And when it comes to drinking and drugging, I am most definitely ‘not able to withstand temptation or persuasion’ since the next drink or drug you put in front of me is Gone in Sixty Seconds. The truth is, my day-to-day routine was based largely around my drinking. If there was a party on a weeknight and I had worked at 4am and class all day, well, work would have to wait for my drunk butt to show up, and I could just get the notes from someone.

  • I’ll just have one or maybe two; I can drink just one more day then stop, I’ll just smoke marijuana that’s not that bad, or I’ll only drink on the weekends, etc.
  • A person shouldn’t consider themselves weak-willed or incapable when they admit to their powerlessness, and they don’t have to do anything about their addiction yet.
  • This is often known as seasonal depression, winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder ….
  • Alcohol and drugs act as the kryptonite, Achilles heel, or fatal weakness, of every abnormal drinker and drug user.
  • Written by theologian Karl Niebuhr in the early 1930’s, the Serenity Prayer was adopted and adapted by Alcoholics Anonymous shortly after it published the Big Book.

When we become helpless to unmanaged family, work, finances, health, or relationships, we experience a real sense of powerlessness. When you start your path in recovery, you’re likely to find that your life is a bit unmanageable. Please don’t feel the need to surrender when you begin; this is an ongoing process, and it might take time to cope with everything that’s happening. As the Medical Director, Mark works with the staff to coordinate the appropriate level of care for each individual client. He works directly with the clients on management of medical issues both related to and separate from their addiction, ensuring comprehensive health care plans that ensure our clients’ chances at recovery.

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When you look up the definition of the word “powerless”, you will find that it means being helpless, without ability or influence, ineffective, and defenseless. When you are powerless, it means you don’t have enough capability to win over something or to control something. OCD and alcoholism can be linked in individuals who turn to drinking to reduce the compulsive behaviors tied to their… I’ll just have one or maybe two; I can drink just one more day then stop, I’ll just smoke marijuana that’s not that bad, or I’ll only drink on the weekends, etc.

In addition, Deirdre has experience in caring for young adults, women’s health issues and adolescents with HIV/AIDS. She served as a Wellness coordinator at Search for Change, Inc and currently serves as an Independent Practice Coach from 2011 to present. As the Family Nurse Practitioner, Deirdre performs history and physical exams, and works with clients to diagnose and treat dual diagnosis clients. James Scribner holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

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