Step 1 challenges the notion that no matter what, a person has at the very end of the day their free will choice. Humanity's belief that conscious choice is at the foundation of it's existence makes up one of the more solid principles in both belief based and non belief based societies.
The challenge addicts face is the very belief that they can positively actualize their in built free choice, even when it is clear to everyone else that their addiction has taken their free choice away. It is this very loss of their free choice which makes them powerless over their actions (whether they involve substance abuse or another kind of addiction related action), to the point where their lives have become unmanageable.
"Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom," reads a passage from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The fact that the inner human condition is one, which can delude one's self into believing that all crises are self manageable and conquerable by one's own will is the overriding principle that needs to be erased by the addict if there is any hope of taking their life back from addiction. Step 1 is integral to the entire process of the 12 Step recovery in that without it, there can be no transformation.
According to Bill W, the first step was derived largely from my own physician, Dr. Silkworth, and by my sponsor Ebby and his friend, from Dr. [Carl] Jung of Zurich. I refer to the medical hopelessness of alcoholism — our powerlessness over alcohol.
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