Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

Step One – Excerpts

Quotes in Brief

"When he met Dr. Bob, Bill W. followed Dr. Silkworth’s advice, and the rest is history. We follow on their footsteps. Defeat, despair, and collapse force us to surrender and admit what we would not willingly admit, that we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable." – p. 70

"Admitting powerlessness is the first and fundamental step in surrender." – p. 72

"If we are less than honest with Step 1, we are going to be less than honest with the other Steps as well." – p. 73

"When we look back from the vantage point of sobriety, many of us realize that when drinking we often felt like a fake, a fraud, and a phony. That’s because we were." – p. 74  

"Acceptance cannot be forced on us. It is an interior act. Circumstances may force me to admit, but not to accept. It is possible to admit that one is powerless over alcohol, that one cannot stop drinking on one’s own, yet have attitudes which betray a lack of acceptance. These attitudes get in the way of a complete surrender and block the way to subsequent Steps." – p. 77

"Sometimes this lingering doubt as to whether I really am an alcoholic will lie dormant and not surface until after a long period of sobriety. The result is always the same. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." – p. 77

"Once the drinker has crossed a certain 'invisible line,' he loses the power to choose. That is what makes him an alcoholic. As defined by AA, being powerless over alcohol and being an alcoholic are two ways of saying the same thing." – p. 78

"When we have recognized our hopelessness, admitted defeat, and accepted our condition, we have hit bottom. We are then able to admit our powerlessness, which is to finally acknowledge reality and surrender the illusion of a power we lost long ago, when we crossed the metaphorical threshold and became alcoholic." – p. 80  

"It may be said that the difference between a high bottom and a low bottom is the difference between being humbled and being humiliated. It is a matter of degree, of the severity of the manner in which we are cut down to size." – p. 81

"There is an order to reality and my place in the universe, and when, out of pride I think I can make up my own rules and fail to conduct myself in accordance with that order, reality will sooner or later set in and forcibly conform me to itself." – p. 81

"But to be humble is to have a proper estimation of myself. If I am humble, I know who I am, and no person or circumstance can lower my dignity and self-respect, for I know these are given to me by God, and it is not within anyone’s province to take them away." – p. 83

"That is why we can truthfully say that AA is not so much about alcohol as it is about relationships. In recovery what we do is to straighten out our relationships: with God, with others, and with ourselves, with the constituent parts of our own person. We become complete and fully integrated men and women." – p. 85

– From Chapter C. Lack of Power: Our Dilemma

(For fuller excerpts from Step One, please click on subtabs.)