A.A. Oldtimers…On the First Step
A.A. Grapevine, November 1944, Vol. 1 No. 6
Editorial: On the First Step
"We admitted we were powerless over alcoholism - that our lives had become unmanageable."
The first of the 12 steps in the creed or philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous is, "We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable." By such an admission any alcoholic, provided he is sincere, has achieved his first success on the road to well-being.
Such an admission is usually very difficult for the alcoholic to make. The very nature of his disease makes him shun the knowledge of his inability to cope with the problems of everyday life. Hence his desire for something that will rapidly create whatever he thinks he lacks as an individual. With a few drinks under his belt he can fashion the most wonderful dreams about himself. These dreams can become his real characteristics--but only when he recognizes that he must dominate alcohol rather than have alcohol dominate him.
The sincerity with which the newcomer takes the first step is the gauge by which his recovery through A.A. can be measured.
Over the years the alcoholic develops a three-dimensional ability at picture building, which is a kind way of saying that alcoholics are adept liars. So that by really taking the first step--admitting freely and without reservation that he is an alcoholic--a person starts to build a new pattern of thought. The whole, at last, is fabricated from truth rather than wishful thinking or fantasy.
"Ye shall know the truth--and the truth shall make you free" applies certainly to the first step in this program--for truth, to the alcoholic, is simply admitting to himself that he can't handle alcohol, and because of this his life is unmanageable. To those who accept this first step the other eleven follow in the natural course of events--as the scope of the teachings of A.A. become realized and some small rewards have been received.