Step 1


This study outlines the process I use anytime someone (newcomer or not) asks me to teach them how to take the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  And as we all know, there are many ways to take someone through the Steps, but this is the process I use.  One thing to note though, before I start ANYONE on Step 1, there is a little prep work we do before taking that Step:

  1. On our first sit down, I let them tell me their story.  I do this for the primary reason, that I want to hear what they are (or think they are) bringing to the table and so I can being to qualify them as an alcoholic (which will be fleshed out in the #2 and #3 bullet point below).
  2. On the second sit down, we read together, “The Doctor’s Opinion.”
  3. On the third sit down, we read together, “More About Alcoholism.”
    • On this sit down, once we are done reading, I take them to this page and explain how to use it to take Step 1.

Disclaimer:  Again, this is only one man’s process and it’s not right or wrong, it’s just the process I have been using for so long as I have been sponsoring people.  Use it – don’t use it, it’s completely up to you.  It’s been my experience that using the setup above creates a strong foundation for sponsees to be able to jump in and begin taking the Steps.  I wish you all the best (sponsor and sponsee alike) as you walk through taking our amazing Steps so you too, may experience the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.  May God bless your journey!

Step Quick Links:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12

From the Foreword of the 12 & 12:  “A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”

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

The One Thing I Need To Know About Step 1:
Alcohol Isn’t My Problem

of this Step:


Reading Assignment:
BB: Pgs. 30-43 / 12&12:  Pgs. 21-24
(Read Online)

Literature Reference:
“Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty.”  (Big Book, Page 65, How It Works)

What Can I Surrender in this Step?

1.) The delusion that in and of myself I have power, and
2.) The belief that alcohol is my problem


When we first walked into the rooms of A.A., we thought our lives were unmanageable because when we drank, we wound up in strange places, with strange people, in strange positions (some of us – literally). How grateful we were when our sponsor, or other caring members of the Fellowship, helped us fully understand what co-founder, Bill W. meant in More About Alcoholism (top of page 35 in the Big Book – 4th Edition) when he said, “So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux of the problem.”

We are grateful that we were helped to understand that our mental states, or our thinking, WAS/IS the crux of our problem. Selfishness/Self-Centeredness! That, we are told, is the root of our troubles (not alcohol). Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we go to the only thing that has proven to provide us the release we seek from these “fleeting forms” – alcohol.

If we ever need proof of our powerlessness over “a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (which is one definition of alcoholism), all we have to do is look at the many examples of how our life was unmanageable while drinking – and how it wasn’t the alcohol that made our life unmanageable.

Interesting Side Note: Step 1 is the only step that talks about alcohol.  The remainder of the Steps share solutions on how to deal with what the REAL problem is – the noise that lives between my left ear and my right ear (more commonly referred to as our defects of character).


Powerlessness means you’re weak.

Admitting powerlessness is a crucial step on the path to freedom and strength. It takes honesty and courage to accept that alcohol has taken over your life.

You have to take this step over and over.

Step 1 is the only step we ever take 100% and once taken, we don’t have to ever take it again. Once you admit to your inner most self that your’e an alcoholic – you can’t “un-admit” that. Once you get completely honest and tell the truth – that truth never changes. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.


Taking a step displays a willingness to write inventory and allow it to surrender something within us. Write inventory on your most serious shortcomings around the practical application of this step in your life today (“How am I applying the principle found in this Step to every moment of my life?”).

In Your Personal Relationships:

List three (3) examples of how your personal relationships have become unmanageable as a result of your behavior (prior to getting sober – or in sobriety).

  • Corrective Measure(s)?

At Work:

List three (3) examples of how your work relationships have become unmanageable as a result of your behavior (prior to getting sober – or in sobriety).

  • Corrective Measure(s)?

With God and in A.A.:

List three (3) examples of how your relationship with God and my participation in A.A. has become unmanageable as a result of your behavior (since getting sober).

  • Corrective Measure(s)?


  1. Have I ever tried to prove unsuccessfully that I can drink (think) like normal drinkers (thinkers)?
  2. Is my life unmanageable as a result of my drinking (thinking)?
  3. As a result of my drinking (thinking), have I ever felt “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization?”
  4. Have I tried various ways to stop to no avail?
  5. Do I understand that recovery can’t be done alone, and do I acknowledge that I need help?
  6. Does/did life ever get so unbearable I think/thought the only way to deal with it is to get drunk? Do/did you have the phenomenon of craving?
  7. Have I ever thought, “I just don’t know how to deal with life?”
  8. Do I have consequences from my drinking (thinking)?
  9. Am I willing to accept that something is wrong in my life and that I no longer have control?
  10. Have I admitted to my inner most self that I am an alcoholic?

(If you can answer yes to these questions, you’ve likely taken this Step)

Moderate Drinkers Answer “No” To Most, If Not All, Of These Questions  🙂