The First Step of AA: It’s All Downhill from Here

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable”. To a normal person, this sounds like a simple, painless action to take, requiring little effort or sacrifice. For those in the depths of active addiction, however, this is often the most difficult step of all. Addicts and alcoholics have developed a strong bond with their substance of choice, and their disease has blinded them to reality, making them believe their only source of peace and comfort is found in a bottle, bag, or needle. This first step is all the more important, as these misguided beliefs surrounding an addict’s substance of choice must be obliterated if recovery is to be achieved.

The purpose behind the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous is to force the substance abuser to accept the reality of their situation and let go of the idea that drugs and alcohol are the solution rather than the problem. The reason this seemingly easy step is so difficult for many addicts is because their substance of choice has warped their perception of reality, making them believe everything and everyone in their lives are the source of their troubles, not their ongoing substance abuse. This lack of perspective is why you will hear those in the recovery community harp on the notion that moments of clarity should be seized and acted upon with vigor; these are fleeting in the mind of an active addict. A moment of clarity will allow a person in active addiction to admit they have a problem and, hopefully, accept help with their addiction.

One sign that an addict has successfully worked the first step of AA is their seeking admission to a substance abuse treatment center. It may be the case that you have agreed to attend treatment at the behest of your loved ones, but even if this is your primary motivation for enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program the mental clarity achieved after completing detox should allow you to see the error in your beliefs surrounding drugs and alcohol and admit to your powerlessness and inability to manage your life. It is said that the first step is the only one you must work perfectly, as it is only possible to move on in the program of AA once you have fully admitted to yourself the reality of your situation.

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are arranged in a particular order for a reason. The first step of this process requires an addict or alcoholic to accept and admit the reality of their situation, letting go of the idea that drugs and alcohol are not a problem in their life and that they have everything under control. Without completing this step and fully accepting this reality, there is little hope for you to achieve lasting sobriety. The good news is once you have admitted to yourself that substance abuse is a problem in your life, you can begin working on recovering your sanity and achieving a life of sobriety beyond your wildest dreams!


Evolutions is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in beautiful South Florida. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers around addressing and healing the underlying issues at the root of addiction, rather than merely medicating symptoms away.

Our treatment program includes individual and group-based therapy to help clients understand and manage their symptoms and emotions.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or visit