Step 1 in 12-step recovery programs of all varieties is simply the recognition of a major problem in our lives.
That problem stops us from living the way we want to. It stops us from making changes to become a healthier human, both physically and mentally. It stops us from being a good family member, a good neighbor, and a good citizen of the world.
We know there is a problem. We know that if it can’t be changed, we are destined to fail in life. We have made temporary improvements in the past, but we always return to this path of failure. We may think or believe this is our fate — we can never beat this problem permanently. This is only what we believe or fear is our fate: a flawed person, doomed inevitably by this problem.
That is all Step 1 is … recognition of a major problem that can kill us, at least spiritually if not physically.
Our first step is seeing this problem. Many of us never get beyond this step.
In Alcoholics Anonymous this Step 1 can be variously worded. It can be personalized to our purposes. The Alcoholics Anonymous book offers a suggested wording for this step, but many others are available to us. In the end, we can personalize this step (and all the 12 Steps) if it helps us express and truly feel the seriousness of our problem.
One example of another wording for Step 1 is this: “We admitted we could not control our drinking, nor do without it, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Another example: “I have a life threatening problem. My past efforts to establish sobriety have been unsuccessful. I believe I have choices and that my life no longer needs to be unmanageable. I accept responsibility for myself and my recovery.”
These examples and many others are in “The Little Book”, by Roger C.