After many years of refusal, recovery for alcoholics and their families can begin with a simple admission that they are powerless over alcohol. This is the first step in the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon programs.
Step 1 in AA and Al-Anon programs is honesty
“We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
When alcoholism begins to take control of a family, honesty is usually one of the first things to do. The alcoholic lies about how much he (or she) drinks and the people around him start to cover him up as the problem progresses and they too become less than honest.
This cycle of lies and secrecy can last for years and, in itself, create an atmosphere in which the situation actually worsens faster. Even the children are caught up in the lies. It’s a family disease.
The family can be totally controlled by sick thinking. Although the illusion of control may persist, their lives become unmanageable because alcohol is truly in control. It’s cunning, confusing, and powerful.
But recovery for the whole family can begin when someone finally breaks the cycle of denial. This first step begins with admitting powerlessness. Finally honest about the situation. How does this work?
Many times when a family member finally reaches the point where they admit they are powerless over alcohol – be they the drinker or a non-drinking family member – and begin a journey of recovery, it can have a ripple effect and affect others to to find their own recovery.
How do you get to step 1?
Members of Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon Family Groups provide a great insight into the 12 Steps Healing Principles. Many have said that this first step is one of the hardest things to do.
Some people go to their first meeting after a rude awakening. A friend or family member may confront you about your drinking. You may have a medical crisis or you may be stopped because of a DUI. You decide that you need to take action and go to a meeting.
When you live with a loved one who drinks, it can be difficult to admit that you are powerless and unable to clean up the mess and be in charge. You can continue to make things work and therefore you are part of the disease. Only when you admit that you are powerless can you begin to make changes about yourself. You have to give up the illusion of power. From the first step, you can continue with the remaining 12 steps and 12 traditions.
You may not be ready the first time you decide to meet. You can leave early or continue to deny that you have a problem. However, you can come back at a later date when you’re ready to take the first step and admit that you are powerless over alcohol. Twelve-level groups are ready when you are.