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  • What is Step 1 in the Twelve (12) Step Programs

    In the recovery community, the term ‘12 Steps’ comes up almost constantly, in one variation or another. In most in-person 12-step meetings, the steps themselves are outlined in banners or boards hanging on the walls, and are recited during the preamble of every meeting.  If you’re new to recovery or just wonder what all the fuss is about, here is the lowdown on Step 1 – which many say is the most important step in recovery.

    Step 1 Sets the Stage for a Person to Ask for Help

    It’s often said that Step 1 is the only step a person struggling with addictions must take perfectly. All the other steps offer room for interpretation and human imperfections, but Step 1 must truly be internalized in order to proceed with the rest of the 12-step program. Why is the first step so very important? It’s an admission of sorts that there is a problem that the individual, unaided, cannot solve. Prior to taking Step 1, most of us thought we had the power to ‘stop anytime’ or at least put plans in place to manage our addictions; we may have outright denied that anything was wrong at all. Taking Step 1 means admitting that there is a problem and we do need help solving it.

    What is Step 1 in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

    “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find an AA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Narcotics Anonymous (NA)?

    “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find an NA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Cocaine Anonymous (CA)?

    “We admitted that we were powerless over cocaine and all mind-altering substances, and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find a CA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Pills Anonymous (PA)?

    “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction to pills and all other mind-altering substances — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find a PA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)?

    “We admitted that we were powerless over crystal meth and our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find a CMA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Heroin Anonymous (HA)?

    “We admitted that we were powerless over heroin, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find an HA meeting near me

    What is Step 1 in Marijuana Anonymous (MA)?

    “We admitted that we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    Find an MA meeting near me

    Though the unique terminology changes, each Step 1 – whether for the substances listed above, or any other mind-altering substance, or indeed any behaviour that people can become addicted to – whether it’s shopping, sex, gambling, overeating or the like – the substance of Step 1 always remains the same: admitting a lack of power over the drug or behaviour, and unmanageability.

    If you fear you may have already lost control over drugs or alcohol, or feel you cannot manage life the way you used to, or if you’re alarmed by the way a loved one is abusing substances, call Renascent. We offer virtual and inpatient intensive addiction treatment. One of our qualified, understanding counselors would be happy to discuss your unique situation and talk about treatment options.

    All the best for a happy, healthy and sober New Year and beyond!

    About the Authors

    Renascent Staff
    The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.