Step One - Keep it Simple

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
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Wiganman
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Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by Wiganman » Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:46 pm

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

Its important that when you work any step that you understand the theory, relate this theory to your actual life and experience and then put in any follow up action.

In Step one the first word is key. "We" - this tells me I am not on my own and I don't have to recover on my own.

I then needed to understand the powerlessness that the step refers to. For this I read the Doctors Opinion in the Big Book (with a sponsor, always with a sponsor). This explains that alcoholism is a 2-fold illness.

1. Physical. The Doctor explains we have an abnormal physical reaction to alcohol in that whenever we take a drink we kick off a craving for more alcohol. When in active drinking I was aware of this sensation I used to refer to is as "getting the taste". I didn't know then that this was unique to alcoholics I thought this was the normal reaction to alcohol. The craving means that we cannot both control and enjoy our drinking. Can I relate to that? Absolutely! If I ever did drink but couldn't get drunk because of the circumstance I was in that would be pure mental torture. In fact, if I went to a lunch or something and there was only one drink available I would just have a soft drink because that was better than triggering the allergy and the ensuing mental torture - I just didn't know the terminology of my physical reaction at that time. I look back on my drinking career and almost every time I had a drink I ended up getting drunk. In fact I only stopped drinking when I passed out asleep.

If that was my only problem I would possibly be fine. Have a drink at the weekend, get drunk then carry on a "normal life". But it isn't. Step one tells me this is a 2-fold illness.

2. Mental. The Doctor describes our state of mind when we are not drinking as "restless, irritable and discontent". I need to relate to that and discuss with my sponsor. Looking back I was always jumpy, irritable, never content with where I was, who I was with, what I was doing. My mind would race about. I was judgmental, intolerant, inpatient. I would carry round guilt and shame and a fear of the unknown because I wouldn't always know what I have done. Only way I knew to remove all this unpleasantness and get any relief was to have a drink. A drink would instantly remove any nervous tension I could feel in my stomach. I became obsessed with drink, I developed a mental obsession and believed drink would resolve any problem I had.

That's not all with this step. We are told that our lives had become unmanageable. Read Bills Story to relate how an unmanageable life can result from alcoholism. My sponsor gave me 20 questions all based around my life and unmanageability. This was the start of my two way open and honest dialogue with my sponsor. Through the questions I could see how my addictive behavior had impacted on most aspects of my life and the people around me. How I had not managed relationships very well, how I had not been able to manage my work life and colleagues effectively, how I had mismanaged my personal finances. How I couldn't tell the truth if it bit me in the arse. Lying became an habit not just about how much I was drinking but about little irrelevant things and how one little lie can grow out of control very quickly.

So for Step One I have to "fully concede to my innermost self that I am alcoholic". That wasn't difficult for me. The step was all about understanding why and relating this to my life experience.

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PaigeB
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by PaigeB » Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:13 pm

"fully concede to my innermost self that I am alcoholic".
From Chapter 3, More about Alcoholism - page 30 of the Big Book.

I Knew I had a disease, that was all it could be, such was my inability to leave it alone - I was addicted. I made no bones about telling you I was an alcoholic. There was no doubt in my mind. My gut still had doubts.

Preceding the Big Book chapters is The Doctor's Opinion. It clearly and flatly confirmed that I had the disease of alcoholism. It also finally explained why I couldn't have just 3 or 4... (I rarely tried to have just 1). It talked about my feeling of anxiety after a couple and why I would drop even important events like funeral plans to drink more. Finally this was all given a name ~ " the phenomena of craving". I Knew I could not drink so much as a drop safely or I would launch into this allergy type reaction. I had an allergy to compare this to... I am allergic to aspirin... I get what is known as anaphylactic shock where my throat swells and I stop breathing. Yes deadly and really very quick. I have minutes to live without treatment. Some people get bee stings where you can protect yourself but accidents can happen... I have to ingest aspirin, which gives me a choice about what to put in my mouth. I suppose an accident could happen, but it isn't likely. I have made the decision long ago to not even try a topical cream that had aspirin in it - lol, like the "near beer" of my allergy ~ it is not worth the risk.

That satisfied the scientist in me - sort of - I still wanted a way out of it. Page 31 in Chapter 3 even says "science may one day solve this but it hasn't done so yet!" Dang it! LOL... but More About Alcoholism really nailed the disease angle closed AND told me about all the things people had tried AND told me the personal stories about things drunks had tried to beat the disease. Chapter 3 really really took the last of the hope I had for beating the game of the allergy. It did what only another alcoholic can do and that is to assure me that they are in fact telling me the truth about themselves. They survived this disease and had hope for a good life without booze.

In Step 1 I finally had to tell the Truth about myself too - and I had a safe & understanding place to do it. It was the Action of meditating to fully concede to my innermost self that I was truly alcoholic. I had a disease. Now how did I want to treat it? I chose Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 Step & daily maintenance Program.
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65

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Brock
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by Brock » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:21 am

Excellent outline of step one, and I see Wiganman also has step two up, great stuff I hope it goes all the way to #12. I was particularly drawn to this -
The Doctor describes our state of mind when we are not drinking as "restless, irritable and discontent". I need to relate to that and discuss with my sponsor. Looking back I was always jumpy, irritable, never content with where I was, who I was with, what I was doing. My mind would race about. I was judgmental, intolerant, inpatient. I would carry round guilt and shame and a fear of the unknown because I wouldn't always know what I have done. Only way I knew to remove all this unpleasantness and get any relief was to have a drink. A drink would instantly remove any nervous tension I could feel in my stomach. I became obsessed with drink, I developed a mental obsession and believed drink would resolve any problem I had.
Yes drink did seem to be a remedy for these things for many years of my life. But I find some in AA don’t realize that these things do not disappear as completely as the urge to drink does, they may lessen, but if we don’t take step 11 seriously, I don’t believe the irritable racing mind which is a ‘feature’ of modern living, or the other examples given like “judgmental, intolerant, inpatient,” improve to a great extent.

Until I took this advise in the big book to heart - “There are many helpful books also,” and looked for spiritual writers which appealed to me. There are so many with varied ideas and writing styles, we really must look around for someone we find is saying what we need to hear, and having found that, study and practice it as much as we did the big book. Only then did the part in the promises about happy joyous and free come true.

I hope if we get up to step 11 in these discussions I can add more to this, it saddens me to see members at my groups with long sobriety, and long faces, longing to tell the group their little life problems, not realizing they have missed the mark completely about what AA really can do. Speaking of which, I have seen research and interpretation of biblical and other scripture, which leaves little doubt that what is meant by the word ‘sin,’ is just that, to miss the mark, to be unhappy in life. So to sin has nothing much to do with being a bad boy, but everything to do with not being contented in this life.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

innermost
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by innermost » Fri May 17, 2019 10:06 am

I love the Doctor's opinion.
The phenomenon of craving.
May be a manifestation of an allergy.
An allergy that breaks out in craving after alcohol is consumed. Which some seem to get this craving always
and some only some of the time and loose control.
But most chronic alcoholics are doomed. (according to the Doctor's opinion)

As the OP has stated this is a 2 fold disease or allergy.

So if an allergy why then do alcoholics just not drink?
Ah there it is. The big question.
I think it was Clancy who said when an alcoholic puts down the drink and stops, this invisible spring
in the gut starts winding tighter and tighter the further away from the last drink, until it must recoil.
The Doctor's opinion tells us about how we cannot differentiate the true from the false.
We become restless,irritable and discontent, unless we again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes from a few drinks.
Then of course the allergy kicks in the phenomenon of craving. This repeats the cycle all over again.
The Doctor's opinion refers to us as hopeless.
So today I celebrate that this hopeless doomed real alcoholic is a spiritual experienced miracle.
thanks to the Big Book (12 steps) and this fellowship and most of all a Loving Creator whom I call God or Al depending on my mood.
The first 164 pg. is the program!

maurits
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by maurits » Mon May 20, 2019 1:33 pm

innermost wrote:
The phenomenon of craving.
May be a manifestation of an allergy.
An allergy that breaks out in craving after alcohol is consumed.

So if an allergy why then do alcoholics just not drink?
yes indeed,

scratching worsens symptoms,

and preventing things that worsen the condition is effective,

While emotional stress may make the symptoms worse it is not a cause.

The disorder is not contagious.

D'oh
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by D'oh » Mon May 20, 2019 8:36 pm

The six steps were:

•Complete deflation.
•Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power.
•Moral inventory.
•Confession.
•Restitution.
•Continued work with other alcoholics.
The Original Steps.

Being Alcohol is "Just a Symptom" I am Deflated totally, Life had me Down for the Count. Only by "Completely giving myself to this Simple Program" was I "Granted the Gift of Sobriety".

I don't Own my Sobriety, but I do get the use of it, if I ask Daily.

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avaneesh912
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Re: Step One - Keep it Simple

Post by avaneesh912 » Tue May 21, 2019 4:08 am

I think 2 things need to happen. We need to be completely beaten and pushed to the corner but the most important thing is to realize that if we dont take care of the un-manageability we will be led back to alcohol.

Then comes the desire to try this way of life.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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