To recognize powerlessness over your addiction is to face the reality that you don’t have the self-control, discipline, or power to stop your addiction on your own. Usually this is highlighted by continuing addictive behaviors despite (sometimes severe) consequences for your actions. Maybe you’ve violated your personal values in your addiction, or you’ve gone further or deeper than you expected you would. You recognize that none of your efforts to stop have truly worked, and that the addiction has caused destruction and chaos in your life. I remember the first time I attended a 12-step recovery meeting.

These people can offer understanding and encouragement as you take steps to improve your life. Another way to overcome powerlessness is to get involved in your own treatment. Take an active role in choosing the treatment that you want to receive. Ask questions and get as much information as you can about your options.

Understanding Powerlessness

When we feel powerless, we may feel hopeless, helpless, and stuck. We may lose motivation and interest in things we once enjoyed. We may start to believe that things will never get better.

examples of powerlessness in addiction

If you are struggling with addiction, reach out to a friend, family member, therapist, treatment center, or other support system. These people and professionals can offer you the hope and encouragement you need to keep going. They can also provide practical assistance, such as helping you find resources or providing transportation to treatment.

What is Step 1 in AA?

As addiction begins to overtake your life, you lie to yourself about what is happening. Unfortunately, many cannot shatter that illusion until they hit rock bottom and are confronted with undeniable proof that everything is not okay. Only then do they feel that powerlessness that comes from addiction. It refers to an alcoholic who hasn’t touched alcohol in years, but hasn’t admitted to their own powerlessness over the addiction. They may not be drinking anymore, but the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that got them into alcoholism in the first place haven’t changed.

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction or drug addiction, please contact us now at FHE Health for compassionate help and support. Most recovering addicts, especially those who attend the 12-step program, are pretty familiar with the concept of powerlessness. After all, helplessness isn’t a concept that solely applies to addiction, although it might be the first step to recovery and sobriety. Addiction treatment centers discuss the concept of powerlessness in therapy to help people recover. Addiction treatment centers often talk about “powerless” as a way to describe the feeling of being unable to control one’s life.

Why Is Admitting Powerlessness the 1st Step in AA?

One skip becomes two, which becomes five, and before you know it you’ve gone months without receiving the support you need for your recovery. Relying on your own independent attempts to control your behavior has likely led to more failure than success in the past. Believing you have enough power to stop on your own feeds isolation and pride, both of which are fuel for continuing in addiction. As you ask yourself whether or not you’re recognizing your own powerlessness, there are a few different phrases or ways of thinking to notice. Pay attention to the statements below that sound familiar to you. The Serenity Prayer is a central mantra of many recovery communities.

Addiction is not a character flaw, but a disease that alters brain chemicals. No one makes the conscious choice to lose control and wreck their lives. Many factors go into addiction development, from genetics to untreated mental health symptoms, for which some people turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of self-medicating. Addiction exercises enormous power over all those who are touched by it. Admitting powerlessness is essentially waving the white flag and recognizing that you cannot try to drink anymore. History has proven that you have no control once a drop of alcohol enters your body.

What Powerlessness Over Drugs and Alcohol Means

Instead of railing against powerlessness or relying on unhealthy ways of getting our needs met, we can simply share our struggles and ask for help in getting our needs met. The number one character defect for most of us is that we are control freaks. If we don’t feel like we’re in control of everything in our lives, we feel like we’re out of control personally. Serenity, to accept the things I cannot change (other people).

  • The AA first step, admitting powerlessness and acknowledging the unmanageability your addiction brings, is a crucial leap toward lasting recovery.
  • Acknowledging your powerlessness is liberating because it helps you realize the things you are powerless over so you can devote your energy to your actions–the things you can control.
  • From feelings of guilt and embarrassment to powerlessness and helplessness, it can be hard to determine which one is actually the most accurate representation of how we feel.
  • There are people who care about us and want to help us recover.
  • Bradford Health Services is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.
  • We are committed to putting you and your recovery first.

Admitting powerlessness requires getting honest with yourself about reality, instead of the “stinkin’ thinkin’” (delusion and denial) that enables your addiction. It involves realizing that your attempts at self-control are not cutting it, and that you need to rely on others to support you in gaining discipline and control. Sometimes substance use puts you in the hospital by causing legal problems and the cops take you there for a blood draw or to dry out. Sometimes substance use puts you in the hospital by causing physical problems such as alcohol poisoning or liver damage. And sometimes it puts you in the hospital by causing mental problems such as suicidal ideation.

Step One AA is fundamentally about honesty, while active addiction is characterized by lies you tell yourself and everyone around you. Until you reach the point where you choose to get real, stop lying and accept that you need help, any efforts you make to deal with your addiction simply won’t be genuine or effective. I’ve had to “grow-up out-loud” in the rooms of recovery. Every mistake I made before I became sober I’ve replayed and created sequels for while in recovery. I am stubborn and have always had to learn things the hard way. This road has been painful, embarrassing and oft times humiliating, but it has given me the greatest rewards and what I would consider a blessed life.

  • For many addicted to alcohol and drugs, it’s difficult to admit the way addiction has made their lives unmanageable.
  • I take heart in William James’ words, “Faith is a bet you can’t lose.” If I choose to believe that things I’m powerless over can work out without me, then I have more peace.
  • This is why hitting rock bottom plays such a large role in addiction.
  • These people can provide us with the support we need to overcome our powerlessness and take back control of our lives.

The power of admitting powerlessness is that it is the first step to taking back your life. While admitting powerlessness over a substance may seem at odds with efforts to hold addicts responsible for their behaviors, the opposite is true. By accepting that you’re powerless over alcohol, powerless over alcohol drugs or addictive behavior, you’ve come to terms with your personal limitations. Most 12-step programs start with admitting powerlessness. For example, alcoholics Anonymous programs say that those who still believe they have control over their drinking will drink again.