We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol–
that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step One: It’s just plain hard to admit that something is wrong. But if you’re honest with yourself, whether you suffer from drug addiction or not, asking for help is all too often the most difficult thing a person wrestles with.
I have to admit that I have failed, or I can’t control my life, or I have lost my ability to think clearly. You wake up one morning to discover that your life is out of control and you honestly don’t know how that is going to change.
First step often the most difficult
Step One: The first step is always the most important one to take, especially for the person who is suffering the afflictions of drug addiction. It is important because the individual mired in the state of addiction is so often the last person to see what is happening to them, to the ones they love and to their relationships to others. We all want to believe that we can “handle it” and that we are in control of our lives, but the truth is, once addiction sets in, the drug takes over and we are the slave and powerless over addiction’s self-centered demands.
Think of a small child wandering into the street to retrieve a ball, unaware of the oncoming traffic. They only know they want to get their ball back. They’re not thinking about cars and trucks. They are not aware that if they are hit by the car they could be seriously injured, or even killed. That kind of powerlessness is similar to addiction. Children have to learn not to go into the street. They have to learn how to cross the street. They can’t do that on their own.
Nobody likes to admit that they are helpless. There’s a stigma attached to that word, one that suggests that a person is weak and unworthy. But that isn’t true. How does God look at being helpless, or powerless? Think of addiction as a predator, on the prowl and looking for a meal.
Psalms 10:9 states, “He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.” In verse 14 the writer turns to God and says, “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”
God did not stop there, He Himself came to be with us and live with us. In the Gospel of Matthew, the attitude that Jesus of Nazareth had towards the helpless is obvious in Chapter 9, verse 36,
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
We are harassed by addiction, and if we’re honest, powerless to turn things around that’s why step one is SO IMPORTANT and difficult.
The Bible Is A Great Resource
Actually the Bible has some excellent insights into the nature of addiction. Human nature, the way we are wired, seems to put us at odds against that which is in our best interest. Maybe it’s something you wanted to do for somebody else and never got around to it, or it’s finding yourself thinking about something you did.
We all want to think we’d do the right thing, but that isn’t always the case. Even the Apostle Paul, who wrote half of the New Testament, struggled with his own behavior. He is probing into the recesses soul in search of meaning and understanding. Here’s a portion of his dissertation from the Book of Romans 7:15-20
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
This might sound strange, but once you admit you’re not in control, that’s the first step towards being in control. As much as Paul might have agonized over the human condition, he knew there was a way out, a way of avoiding the destruction and ruination that the human condition brings on us. Like an addict, Paul had to admit his shortcomings and face his condition.
Once you fully grasp these concepts you’re ready to move on to the next step and you’ve completed Step One.
Step Two helps you to realize that you are powerless over the ravages of addiction, that you can’t just help yourself by pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Don’t move to Step Two until you have fully completed Step One otherwise you will have trouble getting through all 12 steps.