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Step one (Read 9407 times)
stickmonkey
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Step one
Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:35am
 
the BIG BOOK BUNCH
Taking Step One
Version I 6/9/2000


USE BY COMMERCIAL ORGANIZATIONS OR SALE ARE PROHIBITED
© All rights reserved by the Big Book Bunch, webmaster@sober.org

NOTICE This is not an official site of, nor does it represent, Alcoholics Anonymous.  You may contact A.A. at Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 

The BIG BOOK BUNCH

We are the Big Book Bunch group of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our origins are the Students of the Big Book group, which has met in Woodland Hills, California since December of 1985. Our goals are to live the spiritual process through which sobriety is obtained and enhanced, and to publish (at no charge) our experience for other recovering alcoholics. We have absolutely no affiliation with any organization or cause other than our membership as individuals in A.A..

Our written materials are not official AA literature. They usually do, nevertheless, contain information from the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) and other conference approved literature owned and published by Alcoholics Anonymous. All A.A. material used identifies the source from which it is quoted. References in our documents to Big Book content exclude its stories. Included is all material from inside the front cover through page 164, plus Appendices I (Traditions) and II (Spiritual Experience).

You may reproduce materials of the Big Book Bunch, provided: a) that sources of materials (AA or the BBB) are identified, b) that no charge is made for the materials, and c) that they are not distributed by an organization or process that charges a fee. If you have corrections or improvements, please pass them on to us using the mailbox at the bottom.


Here are the steps we took:  1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

That is what the authors of the Big Book and millions before you did.  To personalize the step for your study and action in the here and now, however, you may wish to rephrase it
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stickmonkey
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Re: Step one
Reply #1 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:37am
 
Although Step 1, itself, does not require that we admit to being "alcoholic", ....

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. [Big Book page 30, line 11]

And what does AA say an alcoholic is? The definition is scattered through the literature, but a test is offered in the first paragraph of Chapter 4. This test is twofold:

a. If when drinking alcohol do you find it difficult to stop?, and
b. If not drinking alcohol, do you experience difficulty in leaving it alone?

The first test measures our alcohol compulsion, which Daniel W. defines as, "An impulse or feeling of being irresistibly driven toward the performance of some action which is irrational." Dr.. Silkworth, in The Doctor's Opinion, tells us that:

...the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker, [Big Book page xxvi, line 4]

The body is in the clutches of alcohol, and alcohol controls the mental processes which, in turn, keep the alcohol flowing into the body.

The second test measures our alcohol obsession, "the persistent and disturbing intrusion of, or anxious and inescapable preoccupation with, an idea or emotion...". In other words, it seems as if the alcohol calls us with voice irresistible until we have little choice but to start the drinking process anew. This affliction is strictly mental until the alcohol enters the body. Then, we are back to the first test—again. In fact, 

...the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. [Big Book page 23, line 5]

...the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking...(are)... the crux of the problem, [Big Book page 35, line 1]

Confucius say:  (He really did, too)
Man take drink
Drink take drink
then, Drink take man!

If you haven't made the concession of being alcoholic yet, don't quit! And, if pe
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Re: Step one
Reply #2 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:38am
 
Writing: Your writing will commence with laying out some facts about your drinking. The simplest way to do this is to begin with the last drinking bout, providing the information set forth below, then proceed in reverse chronology until no significant new facts are to be uncovered.
Your goal is to set forth evidence of the mental processes that led to the first drink, and that your physical, mental, and spiritual states are taken over and subjugated by alcohol when it is introduced into your body. For example:

1. On June 20, after 3 weeks of abstinence, I had a few beers with the crew after a really hot 10 hour Friday.

I drank because: I just had to cool off, to renew my relationships with my old drinking buddies, to forget my boss's threat to replace us if we didn't speed up, to check out the ladies at the Golden Suds, and to show my nagging Alanon wife that she couldn't control me all the time.

This is what happened: I had two or three pitchers, got in a fight with John Jones, told the boss's nephew he was a nerd, spent half of my paycheck on floozies in the bar (with no physical relief, either), suffered a black-out between midnight and bar closing, parked the car in the neighbor's front yard, was locked out of my bedroom, spent the weekend puking alone, had a horrible hangover on Monday, and was placed on suspension at work.

Did alcohol work for me? It seemed to cool me off for a few minutes, but none of the other results I had in mind happened. As usual, a number of other unanticipated things also happened, all of which were not wanted. No, it didn't work—again, and I am truly lucky that no permanent damage resulted.

2. The whole month of May was the total pits.

I drank because: It didn't occur to me that not drinking was an option. I just couldn't stand the nagging of the wife, and the looks of the kids. It was necessary, somehow to just shut them off. The only thing in life that was tolerable was pool at the Golden Suds with my pals—
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Re: Step one
Reply #3 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:40am
 
This is what happened: Whatever relief I found in the bottle was superficial. My doctor told me I needed to cut down. I almost got arrested for crashing into the freeway divider. My pals really just tolerated me. They didn't give a damn about me. Work was unbearable, what with the hangovers, short hours, and a boss who didn't understand. I was getting 2 or 3 black-outs a week. The kids were never there. The wife was a beast. I was always sick.

Did alcohol work for me? Nothing worked anymore. My greatest fear was that it would never end. The beer was no good. I got sick. Wine tasted like bile. Whisky blacked me out. I didn't know what to do.

3. (You should have the idea by now.) Continue until the learning value wastes away.

In conclusion: provide answers to these questions.

Which of my problems will be removed or alleviated if I take a drink of alcohol?

Can any good come of my taking another drink?

What will really happen to me and others if I do drink again?

What good reasons do I have to believe my answers?

Do I wish to avoid the next drink?

STEP 1b. I admit that my life has become unmanageable...

You have just swallowed some painful truths about your drinking. Upon even trivial reflection it is obvious that your thinking hasn't been too rational, either, when it comes to the drink problem. Have you managed your drinking career well?

The mentality we have when it comes to drinking, however, is but one part of a deeper thinking impairment which impacts almost every aspect of our consciousness. You may have noticed expressions such as these in the Big Book:

...illusion, delusion, self deception, lurking notion, peculiar mental twist, curious mental phenomenon, insane idea, foolish idea, insanity, absurd and incomprehensible behavior, queer ideas, strangely insane, subtle insanity, strange mental blank spots...[Big Book, various pages].

You undoubtedly have your own favorite expressions gleaned from pages 30 - 43 in
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Re: Step one
Reply #4 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:42am
 
Writing: Put down some thoughts/actions and vacancies/inactions that might lead you to doubt your capability to run your own life or the affairs of others. Examples might be:

I married my first wife because she liked to party. I divorced her because she couldn't hold her liquor. I made my oldest boy become a veterinarian because I liked horses. I got into steel working because it was dangerous. I socked my best friend because he voted for McGovern. I hate my step father because he wants to visit us every two years. My neighbor is weak because he is fat. I repair my own car because the local mechanic is an Arab. We installed a pool for partying. etc..

Many members of AA feel a need to write an Immoral inventory (as opposed to the moral inventory of Step 4). If you have such a need, get it out of your system here.

In the course of writing our terminal drinking experiences, we have discovered that answering these questions is helpful.

a. When I decided to take the first drink of that last drinking bout......

Had I answered the 20 questions suggested by Johns Hopkins Hospital? If so, what was my "score"?

Did I know that I had a problem with alcohol?

Was drinking habitual?

Did I have good reasons not to drink?

Was I aware of the reasons not to drink while I was deciding to drink?

Did I convince myself that I deserved a drink as a reward?

Did I expect the drink to work for me?

Did it work for me?

Was I optimistic about my future?

Did I have a sense of hopeless, dread or impending doom?

Did I consider myself worthy of a good life?

b. Was there a moment of clarity or a traumatic event that contributed to my not taking a next drink after the final bout ended?

In conclusion: It is more than likely that 85 - 95 % of your ideas and mental processes are right-on, and that the remainder will, as a minimum, get you or others into trouble. Our problem, it seems, is that we can't differentiate the good ideas from the
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Re: Step one
Reply #5 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:43am
 
And to remove the mental defense loop hole, how about this:

We are without defense against the first drink. [Big Book page 24, line 12]

When delusion based thinking ...is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane. [Big Book page 24, line 29]

So many want to stop but cannot. [Big Book page 25, line 3]

The prognosis of a meaningful and joyful life, even while experiencing abstinence, is also dubious, because

...our troubles...are...of our own making. They arise out of ourselves. The alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. [Big Book page 62, line 15]

In view of the following dire prediction (bold style has been added for emphasis) you may wonder if there is any hope at all....

Among physicians, the general opinion seems to be that most chronic alcoholics are doomed. [Big Book page xxviii, line 32]

They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery. [Big Book page xxvi, line 34]

The principle of Step 1. A.A. is big on principles. (Look up "principle" in the dictionary.) In fact, the word appears 36 times in the Big Book. Just one instance is,

The principles we have set down are guides to progress. [Big Book page 60, line 10]

We try to distill each of the steps into its fundamental principle. What is the principle of Step 1? (Clue—it may be hopelessness. Would you
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Re: Step one
Reply #6 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:45am
 
The principle of Step 1. A.A. is big on principles. (Look up "principle" in the dictionary.) In fact, the word appears 36 times in the Big Book. Just one instance is,

The principles we have set down are guides to progress. [Big Book page 60, line 10]

We try to distill each of the steps into its fundamental principle. What is the principle of Step 1? (Clue—it may be hopelessness. Would you believe, capitulation? or, could it be surrender?)

Obviously, there has to be more to recovery from alcoholism than admitting total defeat. Step 2 provides some hope.

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Re: Step one
Reply #7 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:50am
 
When we admit our powerlessness and the inability to manage our own lives, we open the door to recovery. No one could convince us that we were addicts. It is an admission that we had to make for ourselves. When some of us have doubts, we ask ourselves this question: "Can I control my use of any form of mind or mood-altering chemicals?"

Most will see that control is impossible the moment it is suggested. Whatever the outcome, we find that we cannot control our using for any length of time.

This would clearly suggest that an addict has no control over drugs. Powerlessness means using against our will. If we can't stop, how can we tell ourselves we are in control? The inability to stop using, even with the greatest willpower and the most sincere desire, is what we mean when we say, "We have absolutely no choice".


- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 1
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Re: Step one
Reply #8 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:54am
 
GrinSPONSOR/SPONSEE STEP ONE WORKSHEET
"We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



The first mistake that many of us make when we come into the program, is that we think drugs are the problem. When we say to the newcomer that drugs are only a symptom of a much deeper problem (addiction), it is hard for them to understand this.

To get a better understanding of addiction, we must look at the disease concept of addiction. From that point of view, addiction is a disease of attitudes, personality and a general negative outlook, that is rooted in fear, insecurity and low self-esteem. The main ingredients of addiction are obsession and compulsions. Obsession - that fixed idea that takes us back time and time again to our particular drug, or some substitute, (substitute being anything that makes us feel good and get instant gratification, such as money, power, sex, food, anger, etc.) to recap the ease and comfort we once knew. Compulsion - once having started the process with one fix, one pill, one drink or one substitute we cannot stop through our own power of will. Because of our physical sensitivity to drugs and anything that makes us feel good we are completely in the grip of a destructive power greater than ourselves.

Looking at addiction from this point of view, we see how addiction makes our lives unmanageable with or without drugs. At this point we must surrender and accept how powerless we are over our addiction. When we do this a very strange thing happens, we begin to gain power through the (WE) part of the program and the next Eleven Steps. It has often been said that the First Step is our past and the things of our past that are with us today. And the next Eleven Steps are our future.

Now that we have a better understanding of
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Re: Step one
Reply #9 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:55am
 
Now that we have a better understanding of our addiction, let us look at some ways we can apply the First Step in our daily lives. The most obvious is that we can't pick up that first drug or our lives will become unmanageable. We must accept and surrender to this JUST FOR TODAY. Let's now take a look at some non-chemical ways we must apply this Step in our lives.

You go out to your car in the morning and it has a flat tire. Rather than feeding into the addiction attitudes of anger or frustration, which will create unmanageability, we must accept and surrender to the fact that the tire is flat and take action to correct the situation. As addicts we tend resist the act of surrendering and using this Step on every day problems making our lives unmanageable.
Another situation could be you go out to your car and you start it up and the motor dies. It can't be fixed. You need it for your job. You must be able to apply the first step to this situation. Accept and surrender that the car cannot be fixed and you then gain the power to find alternate transportation. Or you can refuse to surrender and apply the Step and let your life become unmanageable. The choice is yours.
The First Step can be and must be applied to all areas of our life. This is called Living the Steps. The bottom line is that drugs are one symptom of our disease. The only relief we get from our disease is by working the Steps. It is a new and exciting experience that will bring many changes into our lives. The following questions you are to write about on a separate sheet of paper and return to your sponsor.

What do you have to give to the "we" of N.A.?
How have you been isolating?
How good are you at being a part of?
How many times is the word "admitted" in our steps?
Why is this word so important?
How good are you at admitting?
In the dictionary, look up and write out the definition of "admitted".
Write your own definition of "admitted."
What is your definition of powerless.
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Re: Step one
Reply #10 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:56am
 
In the dictionary, look up and write out the definition of "powerless".
What does the word "were" mean as used in the 1st step.
What is "our addiction"?
Look through the 1st ten chapters of Basic Text and write down all definitions for addiction. (Stated or Implied)
What is the disease of addiction?
Why is being clean not enough?
How was my life unmanageable in my addiction?
How is my life unmanageable in recovery?
How do I apply the First Step in my life?
How are our Steps different than any other 12 Step program
Am I willing to accept the Steps as a way of life?
In the dictionary, look up and write out the definition of "addiction".
Write out how you were powerless over your addiction when using and in your recovery.
What does "had become" mean when used in the 1st Step?
In the dictionary, look up and write out the definition of "unmanageable."
Write out your definition of "unmanageable."
How was your life unmanageable when you were using and in recovery.
Who managed your life when using and who manages your life in recovery?
What does sponsorship have to do with the 1st Step?
Write out benefits of accepting your powerlessness over your addiction.
Write out the benefits of surrendering your life to N.A.
One last thing that must be pointed out is the WE portion of this Step and all our Steps. All our Steps begin with WE except the 12th, which has the word WE in the center. This makes us different than any other 12 Step program. Narcotics Anonymous is a WE program not a me program. Part of our strength and power comes from WE. Together we can. I can't, WE can. This is why we need meetings for the rest of our lives. This is why we need contact daily with other recovering addicts. A statement many newcomers may' ask is, "If I stop using,, I should be cured and I don't need the program or meetings anymore." The only way I know to clear up this denial is to answer this way. A non-addict (a non-addict is a person who does not hav
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Re: Step one
Reply #11 - Apr 30th, 2008 at 7:58am
 
One last thing that must be pointed out is the WE portion of this Step and all our Steps. All our Steps begin with WE except the 12th, which has the word WE in the center. This makes us different than any other 12 Step program. Narcotics Anonymous is a WE program not a me program. Part of our strength and power comes from WE. Together we can. I can't, WE can. This is why we need meetings for the rest of our lives. This is why we need contact daily with other recovering addicts. A statement many newcomers may' ask is, "If I stop using,, I should be cured and I don't need the program or meetings anymore." The only way I know to clear up this denial is to answer this way. A non-addict (a non-addict is a person who does not have the addictive personality) who goes to the hospital for an operation is given a physically addictive drug for pain during a period of two weeks. He becomes physically addicted. They detox him and he goes on with his life without any problem. However, addicts with the disease of addiction, having addictive personalities are unable to just stop with no problems, we were addicted long before we used.

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Re: Step one
Reply #12 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 2:07am
 
Dear stickmonkey,
Thanks a lot for your valuable posts.
Unfortunately, some of them are interrupted from some reason.
Is it possible to fix it?
Thank you.
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