Step 1: Twelve-Step Program

A note on language: At Renascent we help people recover from substance use addiction and integrate 12-Step facilitation into our programming. We recognize that the substances our clients are recovering from and the 12-Step groups they connect with may vary. Throughout our website you may see general terms relating to the 12 Steps as we are inclusive of all recovery programs, including AA, CA, and OA.

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

A 12 Step program is for people looking to get and stay sober. We understand the difficulty that comes with the first step.

Everyone’s interactions with the 12 Step principles are different. If you are new to the steps, thanks for learning with us. Or you may be familiar with them already. Regardless, the pace of your recovery journey is up to you. No matter where you are, you are welcomed here at Renascent

When your life has become unmanageable

At Renascent, our counsellors have been where you are, so we understand what it means to accept that you are struggling with addiction. When approaching the 12 Steps uncomfortable feelings may arise. 

As part of your journey with sobriety, taking the first step is a big deal. You are acknowledging that you have a problem with addiction.

Admitting is the first step

The 12 principles can be intimidating because they require time and commitment. It’s understandable why this is hard, and you might not be ready to do so. That’s okay. Step 1 starts with honesty about your substance abuse, where you need to admit that you have a problem. You can watch this video from Renascent staff and alumni discussing when they had their moments of honesty about their addiction to help guide you in your recovery. Your honesty about your addiction starts when you are ready to accept guidance, and acknowledge how alcohol has affected your life.

In the past, looking towards substances may have been your way to escape hurt in your life. When approaching the 12 Steps, usually you’ve acknowledged that your use of substances has progressed into addiction, and that you are ready to accept help. You accept your misuse of alcohol and how it has become normalized. That due to alcohol, any obstacles or interferences with your life have become desensitized because of alcohol and this has made you powerless. Step 1 is asking you to acknowledge and accept these factors. If someone is not ready to accept this aspect of themselves, they cannot move any further with the 12 Steps. 

Working towards Step 1 

There are several ways you can explore Step 1. First, you must admit how alcohol has taken over your life.  

You may have difficulty with trying to comprehend this. So, you can start with a pen and paper. Doing this is something that is personal, and something you are doing for yourself. By writing things down you can formulate your thoughts and your feelings so that you can better understand and communicate with others in the future about your addiction.

You also might be questioning what feelings you need to write about. 

Start by writing down your feelings that surround your addiction.  

Have you ever felt guilt? Hopelessness? Anxiety or depression? These are all emotions and feelings that are valid. Writing down your feelings can help identify and work through the hurt you’ve experienced from the misuse of alcohol

In Step 1, you  identify areas of your life that have been impacted due to your addiction. Have you experienced any changes in your physical health? Are there any differences in your productivity in your workplace or in your academics? What about your relationships with friends and family? How has your addiction affected them? 

Take your time to reflect on the impact of addiction on your life and how it has made you powerless. We understand that oftentimes, people turn towards substances to deal with their hurt and may feel alone. And because of that feeling, there may be trouble in expressing those feelings to others and in return has formed secrecy between you and those around you. 

Your experiences and feelings are valid. Our objective is never to make you feel ashamed for your experiences or for the way that you are feeling. We understand how difficult it can be. 

Often people struggle to quit alone and in secret. They might think, “I can do this by myself,” there is a belief that they have to manage their addiction alone because they have already been doing so. But contrary to that belief, it can actually hold you back.

Sue has participated in Renascents recovery program. In the past she, like many others, had to acknowledge and accept the consequences of her misuse with alcohol. For a time, she also thought that she could manage her alcoholism alone, but that was not the case. For her, it took the loss of her job, a car accident due to her impaired driving, the potential loss of her partner, and her life to get the help that she needed. It took life-altering events for her to take the first step. She attributes the 12 Steps, and Renascent in helping her through her sobriety.

Acceptance is one step forward

By accepting that you are powerless, that your life has become unmanageable you are one step closer to your sobriety by opening yourself up to guidance and help. 

How Renascent helps

Renascent deeply understands the unique individual journey that is necessary for you. We are here to support you and guide you to define what your recovery means to you. Your Road to Recovery starts here.

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.