STEP ONE - We admitted we were powerless over [acting out]- that our lives had become unmanageable.
The Big Book explains that the reason we choose to act out stems from the initial feeling of RID; being restless, irritable, or discontent. It follows that unless we find something to substitute those feelings, we will never be satisfied. Moreover, it’s not merely about the behaviour we choose to engage in to relieve those negative feelings, but rather it’s about the effects provided by that behaviour. It comes to a point where we NEED to act out in order to satisfy and pacify that pain - in the exact same way a diabetic NEEDS insulin to carry on living. As addicts, we feel our lives are on the line. The phenomenon of “craving” that the Big Book speaks about isn’t the desire itself, but what happens after we begin to engage in our method of acting out. A normal reaction would be to feel satiated when that desire has been fulfilled, but our addict reaction is that while feeding the desire, it only increases.
Regardless, it’s not about beating ourselves up. We’re not fools. What we have been doing has been working. Obviously we’re going to keep coming back to those behaviors - anything to silence the voices in our heads. It worked time and time again…. until it stopped working. Our solution suddenly became our problem. Nobody ever warned us that would happen, and as a result, the internal conflict became overbearingly difficult.
Step one explains how there needs to be an entire psychic change: ‘Something more than human power is necessary to produce that change’. Step One isn’t about not acting out; it’s coming to realise that I WILL act out, because I have no power. The delusion that we’re like other people has to be shattered. We come to the realization that left to our own power, we stand no chance. It’s not about about how much or how often we engage in our destructive behaviour anymore. Let’s ask ourselves how many times we’ve said ‘no more’ but somehow done it yet again?! A moderate addict simply needs a good reason to stop and he’ll stop. But in our case, do we think that there will be a point when enough pain will make us give up our addiction? For a one thousand dollars- can we choose to stop? Or do we realize that we have completely lost the power to choose? Some of us discover that even the memory of the pain and suffering of just yesterday will still not be enough to help us stay sober today.
The nature of our addiction is similar to Russian Roulette. We can never know which way or how far it’s going to go. Consider a monkey who eats a poisonous berry and immediately feels the effect, it is safe to assume that the monkey will never go near a similar berry again. Yet it seems that with all the knowledge, logic, and understanding of our addiction; we still keep going back. There can clearly be no middle path solution for us; either we make the choice to continue on to the bitter end, or we accept spiritual help. Step one is the realization that we have no power to manage ourselves and we need a new manager. We finally accept that we are unable to stop acting out on the basis of self- knowledge. Giving up the power that we always thought we had, provides us with a new sense of relief and hope.