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Step 1 in Sobriety

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


Completing Step 1 is the foundation for success. It is half of the Explain Phase of Skill Transferring sobriety into an Addict. Step 1 establishes the desire to be free of alcohol(or whatever their obsession is) and that their life is not manageable in the current state. They need access to a new power that can and will relieve the human from bondage. ADMITTING. This is key. How can we help an Addict of any kind recognize that they have a mental obsession? Especially when the mental disease actually tells them that they DON’T have a problem.


A young man had been arrested several times for various issues. Driving under the influence, drunk in public, vandalism (while high), getting into a brawl at a bar and finally stealing alcohol from a local store. He had just gotten into a car accident and was in the hospital with several broken bones, concussion, and some internal damage. His mother came to see him and asked him a question, “Son when are you going to do something about your problem?” His response, “What problem?”


A man in his 50’s was a member of MENSA. His brain was so powerful that he had been contracted by a government agency to build communication technology for their network in Europe. He carried security clearance that enabled him to be in the same room as ICBM missiles. He had 23 patents on record. This gentlemen had 12 DUI’s. He had been arrested 12 times for driving completely drunk. Now the standard for prison time (5 + years) is around 4 DUI's. He had 12. On his 13th DUI his car rolled, exploded and burned 10 million worth of property. The judge told him that if he got into treatment and showed the court within 90 days that he was sober and willing to change that he would keep him OUT of prison. (Remember this was lucky number 13). The gentlemen left the court house and went straight to the bar to celebrate his good fortune. He subsequently got number 14.


A young pastor found himself quite tired before his sermon one Sunday morning. His Church Director had kept him up all night admonishing him regarding his drinking. He told his Church leader that he was off base and that his drinking had not ever affected his ability to guide the church. The pastor vaguely remembers having a quick shot of vodka to still his nerves before the service. After his sermon that morning, one of his church members walked up and complimented the theme of his talk, but had one question, “Why did you say the F word 17 times?” Apparently he had succumbed to craving and emptied the bottle and then blacked out during the service. His thought was, wow, I should only drink beer before a service.


We could fill a thousand books with examples of obvious alcoholism that goes completely unrecognized by the Addict. How is that possible? The reality is that Addiction is a MENTAL and PHYSICAL issue. It affects the perspective. It is baffling how powerful this affect is but it is a fact.


How can we help an Addict see the truth?


20 Questions:

  1. Are you experiencing cravings for alcohol, the act of drinking or the act of being drunk?

  2. Is thinking about alcohol or having a drink at the forefront of your mind a lot of the time?

  3. Have you ever felt like you should cut back on your alcohol consumption levels?

  4. Are you hiding how much you are drinking from anyone close to you?

  5. Do you feel shame and guilt around your drinking patterns?

  6. Are you drinking alone regularly?

  7. Is alcohol in any way controlling your life or schedule?

  8. Do you experience blackouts when you drink?

  9. Do you drink more heavily based on your emotions or stress levels?

  10. Have friends or family expressed concern towards your drinking habits?

  11. Have you tried to switch the types of alcohol or brands you consume in an effort to control your drinking?

  12. Has there ever been a time that you tried to quit drinking or promised to yourself that you would stop, but could not manage to do so for more than a couple days?

  13. Does drinking affect your personal life in any way such as missing work or having arguments with people?

  14. Do you ever wonder what your life would look like if you did not drink?

  15. Have you been in trouble with the law while under the influence?

  16. Do you become a different person when you drink such as a dare devil, angry, violent or more extroverted?

  17. Do you binge drink or drink heavily on a regular basis?

  18. Are you able to have a couple drinks at happy hour and call it a night easily or do you tend to gravitate towards keeping the partying going once alcohol is in your system?

  19. Do you compromise on your morals or values while drinking?

  20. Do you experience any type of alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, anxiety, depression, vomiting in the morning or when you don’t drink for a couple days?


If the individual can SEE the truth of their issue then you have a real shot at helping them find sobriety and ultimately freedom from the bondage of this harmful condition. Answering 3 or more with a yes is an indication that they have a substance issue that needs to be arrested. But, this will only help a few see the truth lets try something else:


Write out your drinking/drugging life story:


1. Tell your story from the first moment you used to the most recent

2. Tell about the hard/scary/dangerous/immoral things that happened to you while under the influence

3. Tell about any time you lied to cover up what happened to you while using or drinking

4. Tell about any time you got sick or missed work because you were had used or drank too much

5. Tell about any job/relationship you lost because of an incident that occurred while drinking or using

6. Tell about any time you broke the law or got caught while drinking or using

7. Tell about any time someone or others has asked you to slow down or stop your drinking or using

8. Describe your favorite activities...do you ever do them while drinking or using

9. What are your biggest 3 secrets (is drinking or using involved at all)

10.Have you ever thought that you should slow down or stop


If they answer these questions with you or on their own they will build a first step story


Big Book Work

1. Read “The Doctors Opinion” in the beginning of the book

2. Everywhere Dr. Silkworth describes how an alcoholic Feels/Drinks/Thinks highlight the words

3. Sit with the individual and turn those statements into questions:

(Page Roman numeral 28:)

The act of craving never occurs in the average temperate drinker

question: have you ever felt compelled to have at least one more drink even though you knew it was time to stop?


Alcoholics Drink primarily for effect

question: Did you ever drink to get fuzzy, wasted, bombed, drunk, loaded, high etc.

They are irritable and discontent

question: You ever feel anxiety or have trouble sleeping?


4. Read Bills Story (chapter 1)

5. Everywhere you related to how Bill (felt/though/drank) high light the words from between pages

6. Read those together and point out how they are relating to the co-founder of all recovery

7. Have them read There is a Solution chapter 2

8. Have them look for the solution and high light what they think is the solution to drinking

9. Have them read More about Alcoholism chapter 3

10. Read through this chapter and find WHY Addicts/Alcoholics relapse and what they will need to do to prevent it

11. Read 3 stories in the back of the book at random

12. On a pad of paper note anywhere you could relate to how they (felt/thought/drank) like you


Fellowship Work

1. Go to 3 meetings a week for 4 weeks and listen to the sharing.

2. Note on a pad of paper any message that relates to how you have felt/thought/drank

3. Note on a pad of paper what they say that you must do to avoid drinking and be sober

4. If you feel brave enough, introduce yourself as a newcomer and get a newcomer coin

5. If you feel brave enough get 3 phone numbers from others (of the same gender) that seem to have a good message and let them know you are new

Anyone that is ready to make a change will feel compelled to go deeper at this point. The goal is to get the work done fast and thorough. Don’t move too slowly. If they have time to think their old brain could take back over and you will lose them. Think diligent, rigorous and thorough. This will maintain the momentum and keep their attention. Ask them to NOT drink during this process. 30 days at least. If they can’t that will actually help you to show them their weakness, but if they drink the message will not find a place to root in their heart.


But at this point we should be able to point out 2 clear points:


1. They can NOT safely drink alcohol or use drugs

2. Their life is not in their control


This is the first half of the explain phase. How we demonstrate our willingness and surrender to STEP 1 is via actually DOING the other steps. If someone is NOT ready to quit and change then they will simply avoid doing the work or stop completely. I have gone as far as saying, I will not be able to help you if you can not comply with my suggestion of abstinence during this assessment. Also, we must be completely honest with each other or we are wasting our time.


If they wake up to the fact that they need help then we can actually get into STEP 2!!

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