How Step 1 of the 12 Step Program Tackles Addiction Head-On

After so many failed attempts to stop using, the hold drugs have over the body and mind becomes painfully apparent. Unfortunately, at this point, the drug’s effects have already trained the mind to ignore this reality and escape into more drug use. By the time a person enters recovery, he or she may be aware of this state of powerlessness, but not understand its full extent.

The 12 Step program has become the standard in addictions treatment, simply because of how it helps addicts work through the psychological dependence that is addiction. Step 1 of the 12 Step program reaches into the heart of addiction by bringing this sense of powerlessness to light.

Addiction’s Hold

Step 1

Step 1 involves admitting one’s powerlessness over their addiction.

During the course of a developing addiction, the effects of the drug (or alcohol) take on increasing importance in a person’s life. While the physical effects of drug use act as the catalyst for the mental hold of addiction, once a person comes to believe he or she needs the effects of the drug to cope with everyday life, the mind’s dependence and expectations surrounding the drug takes over.

In effect, addiction operates as a tag team in terms of how both the body and the mind become part of the addiction cycle, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. On one end, the fear of experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal effects prompts ongoing drug use, while the perceived emotional benefits of the drug’s effects reinforce compulsive drug-using behavior. Ultimately, countering addiction’s hold on the mind requires a head-on approach in order to help the addict see the reality of the problem.

The 12 Step Program Approach

By the time a full-blown addiction takes hold, a person’s daily life essentially revolves around getting and using drugs. From this standpoint, addiction has infiltrated his or her belief systems to the point where drugs have become a sole priority in everyday life.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, as a treatment, the 12 Step program approach addresses the effects of addiction on a person’s thinking, emotions and behaviors on a day-to-day basis. More than anything else, this treatment approach works to replace addiction-based thinking and behaviors with a drug-free mindset. Step 1 of the 12 Step program requires the addict to identify and label addiction as a problem that’s taken over his or her life. This first step paves the way for further growth and development in addiction recovery.

Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

The belief system that supports addiction has an internal logic that validates continued drug use in spite of any negative consequences that result from compulsive drug-using behaviors. Step 1 of the 12 Step program works to help addicts see past this faulty logic and acknowledge the effects alcohol has had in their lives. This type of direct approach not only confronts addiction head-on, but does so in a practical fashion in terms of directing a person’s focus on addiction’s effects in his or her present-day life.

If you or someone you know are considering entering addiction treatment and have more questions about the 12 Step program approach, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at ​888-905-9004 (Who Answers?)  to speak with one our addictions specialists.

12 Ways to Make a 12 Step Program Work for You

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