Step 1 of the 12 Steps: Tips, How to Do It, and Printable Worksheets

woman recognizing that she is powerless

The 12-Step Program is a highly successful recovery program that has been used by individuals worldwide to overcome alcohol and drug addiction. Each step is a principle that is designed to help people who are struggling with addictive behaviors. 

In this blog, we’ll provide a basic overview of Step 1 of the 12 Steps, details on how to work Step 1, and worksheets and prayers to help you through the process. Although the thought of working through the 12-Step Program can seem daunting, try to remember that you only have to take one step at a time and there is no time limit or deadline. The process looks different for each of us and it’s all about progress at your own rate.

What are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What is the Importance of Step 1 in the 12-Steps for AA?

Step 1 is arguably one of the most important steps in the whole recovery process because it’s the start of a brand new life! Simply walking into a 12-Step meeting or enrolling in a rehab program is a huge part of working Step 1 of the 12-Step Program and is an outward sign that you’ve acknowledged that you need help and that you’re willing to do something about it.

It’s also important to remember that although Step 1 requires us to admit we are powerless to alcohol or drugs, we still have the ability to change our lives. We are all fully capable of working the 12-Step Program, choosing to attend a detox and rehab program, and committing our lives to abstinence from drugs and alcohol. However, if we choose to put addictive substances into our bodies, then we are powerless to them.

A major part of Step 1 is also accepting the responsibility to fully engage in our recovery and be open to living a new life. What does this mean exactly? It means that we follow our sponsor’s suggestions, we do all that is required of us in our rehab program, we are willing to listen, give support, and receive it, and we start viewing our recovery program as an opportunity instead of a chore.

How Should I Do Step 1 of the 12-Step Program?

The process of working through each step of the 12-Step Program is highly individualized, but your sponsor, counselor, or an addiction treatment professional can help you through it. Here are a few things he or she may require of you.

  • Get sober. Clearing your body and mind of addictive substances is an excellent place to start if you are new to recovery. Depending on your history of drug or alcohol use and the severity of your addiction, you may need to complete a drug detox program before you can fully engage in a recovery program. Once you are clear-headed and physically stable, you’ll be in a much better place to begin your step work.
  • Share. Sharing your experience at a 12-Step meeting or in a group setting at rehab is another excellent way to work Step 1. This is often very challenging for people in early recovery because secrecy and lies come much more naturally after months or years of addiction. However, openly sharing your experience with addiction is an incredibly freeing process that allows you to let go of your secrets, move forward with your life, and start healing.
  • Write inventory lists. Another way you can work Step 1 is by getting a blank notebook or journal and making inventory lists. Examples could include a consequences list or an unmanageability list. To do this, ask yourself important questions like:
    • In what specific ways has my life become unmanageable due to my addiction?
    • What consequences have I experienced as a direct result of my drug abuse?
    • In what ways have I been powerless to my addiction?
    • Am I willing to do whatever it takes to transform my life?

Printable AA 1st Step Worksheets

Your sponsor, counselor, or addiction treatment provider is a great resource for 1st step inventory worksheets, however, these printable Step 1 Worksheets from 12Step.org are excellent learning tools as well. While working through the worksheets, please note that they are designed to help you understand your experience with drugs and alcohol and you are encouraged to be as open and honest as possible. As a result, you may experience a wide range of emotions while you write, and that’s okay. You don’t have to fill out every single blank on each page, but it’s important to discuss the worksheets with your sponsor, counselor, or addiction treatment provider once you are finished. There’s no need to show these worksheets to anyone else once you’re finished.

Who Can Help Me Work the 1st Step of the 12-Step Program?

Ideally, you will work through the 12 steps with a sponsor and certified addiction treatment professional, but having supplementary support and written guides (like this article) on how to work each step can be very helpful too.

If you want to get sober and you’re ready to start working Step 1 of the 12-Step Program, you’ve landed in a great place! Briarwood Detox offers individually designed detox programs for all addictive substances. Our professional and licensed medical and clinical staff work together to provide a comprehensive and whole-person approach to drug and alcohol detox. This ensures that detox is as safe and as comfortable as possible for you.

Our clients also participate in H&I meetings where they are introduced to the 12-Step Program and can get a headstart on connecting with a sponsor. This process can help you gain the confidence you need to continue in your recovery journey and make important connections with other individuals who share similar life experiences.
It’s never too late to commit to a life of sobriety. No matter where you are or where you’ve been, we believe you can achieve lasting recovery and maintain a healthy and fulfilling life for yourself. Call (888) 857-0557 to speak with a representative at Briarwood Detox today.

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