Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over our drinking, using or acting out and that our lives had become unmanageable.
Listen to Chris Raymer, a recovered alcoholic addict from Texas, talk about the Big Book of A.A. definition of a “real” alcoholic addict.
Take this self-assessment test and determine what type of drinker, user, or obsessive-complusive you might be. If the question does not apply to you – leave it blank. These behavioural characteristics can be found on (page: xxviii, 20-22, 24, 30, 43, 44 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, 2001)
Men and women drink (use or act-out) essentially because they like the effect (body allergy) produced by alcohol (drugs, obsessive-compulsive acts). Is this your experience – yes-no?
The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious (yes-no?), they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false.
The Liar Analogy
As an untreated addict I have this liar that lives in my head who loves the effect that alcohol, drugs and/or obsessive-compulsive behaviour and does not want to give it up…under any condition… so the liar has built this research institute in my head called, “Bullshit Inc.” and is researching new ideas, new excuses, new reasons, new justifications, that even though my life is completely destroyed, my liar convinces me that this time, somehow, someway I will be able to control and enjoy my drinking, using or acting out behaviour. And here is the real dilemma, the liar always wins the argument.
To them, their alcoholic (addict) life seems the only normal one (yes-no?). They are restless, irritable and discontented (bored, depressed, anxious), (yes-no?) unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort (body allergy) which comes at once by taking a few drinks—drinks (drugs, acts) which they see others taking (doing) with impunity.
After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do (Is this your experience – yes-no?), and the phenomenon of craving (body allergy) develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink (use or act-out) again. Is this your experience – yes-no?
This is repeated over and over. Is this your experience – yes-no? …and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of their recovery.
Dog to Vomit Story
The untreated addict is like a dog that returns to its vomit. Ever seen a dog eat something that makes it foully sick? What does the dog do… it vomits and then eats the vomit only to throw it up again… only to eat it again and throw it up again. This is the behaviour of the untreated addict who continuously returns to their alcohol, drugs or obsessive-compulsive behaviour like the dog who returns to its own vomit.
Analogy: Addicts are like drowning men and women. If we don’t find some way of keeping our heads above water, we are going to drown. So we look for some kind of power to keep us afloat. We notice there are “logs” floating on the surface. These logs look like they’re capable of keeping our heads above water, but when we reach for one of these logs we find that we can only hold on for maybe a day, a week, a month, a year, maybe longer, but at some point, the logs fails us as a power and we slip and drown.
“Logs” are best described as “easier softer ways,” “middle of the road solutions,” half measures” and “human aids.”
|My Log List: STEP ONE (PART ONE) Admitting powerlessness: Check those strategies that failed to keep you permanently abstinent.|
|__ will power
__ resolutions, oaths, promises, contracts
__ controlled using, drinking, acting out
__ harm reduction, substitution strategies
__ ill health, sickness
__ ominous warnings from a doctor, judge, lawyer, employer
__ change of environment, trigger lists, avoiding people, places, things
__ counselling, therapy, group therapy
__ detox, treatment centres, spas, spiritual retreats
__ war stories, fear, horror
__ relationships, friends, spouse, children, family, sex, pregnancy
__ getting a pet (dog, cat)
__ church, prayer (faith without works)
__ having a sponsor, mentor, life coach, body guard, recovery coach
__ going to meetings, 90 meetings in 90 days, “meeting makers make it”
__ yesterday’s spiritual experience
__ self-help books, personal development courses
__ recovery knowledge
__ “Big Book” reading / studying
__ intelligence / education
__ frothy emotional appeals, interventions, threats, ultimatums
__ positive thinking, affirmations, self-talk, gratitude lists
__ recovery memes, slogans, poetry: “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow,” “The Man In the Glass”
__ guilt, shame, remorse
__ good days/bad days
__ keeping busy
__ money / no money
__ memory strategies “remember when,” “think, think, think,” “play the tape all the way through”
__ jail, incarceration
__ good reasons to stop, sufficiently strong reasons to stop, consequences
__ moral & philosophical convictions, reputation, behavioural modification
__ suffering, humiliation, pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization
__ sobriety time
__ exercise, holistic medicine, acupuncture, hypnotism, healthy diet, vitamins, fasts, cleansings
|My Loser List: STEP ONE (PART TWO) Admitting life is unmanageable. Check what you’ve lost as a result of your inability to stay stopped.|
__ home / residence
__ careers, jobs, employment
__ licence (vehicle, professional)
__ quality of life
__ mental acuity
__ respect from others
__ emotional security
__ responsibility for myself
__ responsibility to others
__ volition & agency
__ spirituality / God
__ peace of mind
If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely (Do you honestly want to stop drinking, using or acting out – yes-no? and, based on your log list, have you been able to stay stopped – yes-no?), or if when drinking (using or acting out), you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic (addict). (Do you exhibit little control, when drinking, using or acting out – yes-no?) If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. (AA p. 44)
This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the true alcoholic (addict), as our behavior patterns vary. But this description should identify them roughly (Based on your log and loser list does this description of an alcoholic/addict describe you – yes-no?). (AA p. 22).
Step One Instruction (self-diagnosis): We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics (addicts). (Do you fully concede the fact that you’re an alcoholic/addict – yes-no?) This is the first step in recovery. The delusion (lie) that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. (Are you convinced you’re an alcoholic/addict- yes-no?) (AA p. 30).
The Bad News: We are without defence against the first drink (drug, obsessive-compulsive act) (Based on your log list, is this your experience – yes-no?) (AA p. 24) The idea (lie) that somehow, someday they will control and enjoy their drinking (using, acting out behaviour) is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker (user, obsessive-compulsive). Over any considerable period we get worse, never better. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death (AA p. 30). (Based on your loser list is this your experience – yes-no?)
You are now properly armed with the facts about yourself.
The Good News: There is a solution…(A.A. p. 25). If you are as seriously alcoholic (addicted) as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution (yes-no?). We were in a position where life was becoming impossible (Based on your loser list, is life becoming impossible? yes-no?), and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid (Based on your log list, are you beyond human aid? yes-no?), we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort (AA p. 25-26). (Are you ready to accept spiritual help and are you willing to make the effort – yes-no?) …and strange as this may seem to those who do not understand—once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems they despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds themselves easily able to control their desire for alcohol (drugs, acting-out behaviour), the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules. (AA. p. xxix)