"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable".
In addition to alcohol, narcotics and the rest, I would add that one needs to admit powerlessness over addictive or habitual thinking. This first Step is extremely important and one which most people will not begin to work, so long as their ego insists it can cope or manage, invariably a fallacious conclusion. This Step is important for a number of reasons the first being that one voluntarily commits to the work, and 'does' something. The second Step, which I will discuss in Part ll, is more about what is done to the spiritual seeker. These two Steps are bound together so that the second almost seems to be an emergent property of the first.
I recall one of my counsellors once saying that if you are unwilling to enter the first 'Step', you haven't bottomed out, you don't yet hurt enough. He was a recovering alcoholic. Friends and families of substance addicted people so often prefer to play the blame game. In blaming others, a classic denial symptom, they fail to see what is wrong with their own behaviour, even that there is a problem to be looked at. I know, I've been there.
The ego detests, hates and fears change. To change is to admit it was wrong. To change is to admit that it was without real substance. It is a no-one, an emptiness. Yet the acceptance - what a huge word that is - and the ridding of oneself of psychological denial is the gateway to enlightenment and truth, and so much more.
I would like to cite an example which is outside the usual substance-addiction field to illustrate how easily one can fall into the ego-dominated problem of addictive thinking. I take my example from current UK politics. After the Prime Minister's recent, massive defeat in the House of Commons over her Brexit deal, MPs demanded that she return to the EU and renegotiate the 'withdrawal agreement'. It never seemed to occur to them that the EU might just not be prepared to re-open negotiations. The UK government is powerless to force the EU to re-open the 'withdrawal agreement'. They would require consent, choice, on the part of the EU. Choice is not control. [It will also have been noticed no doubt by anyone observing this political process, that the blame game is in full swing.]
Of course, the Prime Minister readily agreed to return to Brussels and she would bring back the necessary changes that would be needed to pass the deal in the Commons, or so she said. Well, she has already tried that and failed. As I recall, ex-Prime Minister David Cameron failed also. It may well be that a new deal is struck. But I say again, it will be from choice [maybe even a nasty tasting choice] not power and control that success emerges. Choice is not control; powerlessness is still there even if the political ego refuses to see.
A good, thorough working of Step One not only reveals powerlessness, unmanageability, and the futility of the machinations of an overly proud ego, but also eradicates the psychological denial in which one has indulged. It is, in truth, enlightenment in the darkness of despair. It is like looking at starlight after the intervening clouds have passed away. But that is more properly talked about in Part ll......