Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Learn more about Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous's 12-step program to get and stay sober.

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, begins the process of recovering from alcohol addiction with Step 1, the first of 12 steps.

This first step states that “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Taking this first step and admitting you have a drinking problem can be difficult and scary, but it is the foundation of all positive change.

If you’re ready to get help with alcohol addiction, visit the AA website to find a support group near you.

However, if you or a loved one need detox support or addiction treatment, consider checking into an alcohol abuse treatment center. American Addiction Centers operates treatment facilities nationwide, with navigators standing by 24/7 to help you get admitted into treatment. To speak to an admissions navigator, call 1-888-685-5770 .

What is Step 1 of AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1 is the beginning of a 12-step program to get and stay sober. Although this step is the first step towards sobriety, most AA members don’t do this step just one time.

Instead, members may study and work on this step many times. Some people have to return to this step after a slip in sobriety, while others review it periodically to help remind themselves that they will always be powerless over alcohol and need to use tools and strategies to keep themselves sober.

This first step states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Alcoholics who are following the AA program can take this step in several ways.

Ways to Follow Step 1

Speak at an AA Meeting

Some AA meetings give all participants a chance to speak. Before speaking, the participant is required to state his first name and say that he is an alcoholic. Pushing yourself to speak for the first time at an AA meeting may be scary, but every time you do so, you take Step 1 and admit to the group that you have a drinking problem.

Tell Someone If You Feel Like Drinking

Sometimes alcoholics keep their desire to drink secret because they’re ashamed or think that deciding to quit drinking means they aren’t supposed to be tempted. This can lead to slips and relapses. By admitting to at least one other human being that you’re having a hard time with your sobriety today, you automatically admit that you have a problem that you can’t control by yourself.

Work With A Counselor And/Or Get An AA Sponsor

By seeking help for your alcohol problem, you admit that you’re powerless to stop drinking on your own. Your counselor can help you learn strategies to stop drinking and can be one of the people you tell when you’re struggling with drinking.

Some people also rely on an AA sponsor – a person who has overcome alcoholism for a significant period of time and understands the compulsion to drink so that you can trust him to listen and help you when you feel like drinking.

Tell someone if you do drink

Alcoholics who are trying to get sober sometimes feel deeply ashamed if they slip up and have a drink. But keeping your mistakes to yourself only makes it appear like you are in control when you’re not.

So if you tell your sponsor or other safe person that you drank as soon as you can after sobering up, it can be a way of admitting you are powerless over alcohol.

Step 1 of AA

Free and low-cost alcoholism treatment is available.

How Can I Get Help With the First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The 1st step of Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most difficult for people to take. Whether you are attempting to get sober for the first time or you are returning to sobriety after a relapse, it can be scary or embarrassing to admit that you are unable to stop drinking on your own.

Next: Step 2
Last: Alcoholics Anonymous Overview