Steps One, Two and Three of AA: Admitting The Addiction is Stronger and Tougher Than the Alcoholic

admitting addiction

For the duration of this article, “addict”, will be used to identify both the alcoholic and drug addict. “He”, will also be used to denote male and female.

Excessive use of alcohol as well as other substances causes the person to enter a sphere of disconnectedness with oneself and the surrounding world. This happens due to an ever growing rigid denial system. The first three steps of AA address this – surrender to the inability of controlled use.

Definition of a Denial System

Denial is not peculiar to addiction. Basically, denial is the inability, if not stubborn refusal to see reality. All humans use denial depending upon the circumstances from time to time.

Denial with a growing addiction becomes rigid over time. If allowed to develop long enough it can lead to an extreme disconnectedness with self and the surrounding world.

Denial is further marked by thinking disorders or delusional thinking. Therefore, a person’s ability to reason normally becomes impaired to severely impaired.

Examples of Denial

The addict may say, “I don’t have a problem. I drink because, you don’t know how difficult it is to live with my spouse,” (blaming someone else instead of taking responsibility for the drinking).

Another example may be, “I wasn’t intoxicated. I only had a couple of beers when I left the bar. I never drive drunk,” yet, this is the person’s third or more, OUI (Operating Under the Influence).

Reality is, the person trapped within the growing addiction, knows deep inside that something is wrong, but just does not possess or is losing the internal strength to face reality. That internal muscle becomes flanked with intense shame and guilt. Picture someone trying to shoulder the Rock of Gibraltar.


As long as an addict thinks use is controllable, relapse is inevitable.

Acceptance of this concept allows the recovering person room to grow in recovery. Acceptance of the inability to control substance use produces humility, which, in turn, allows someone to be teachable.

Humility and Recovery

Taking responsibility and accepting that the addiction is more powerful than the individual frees that individual in recovery to accept help from others. Someone may need to relapse a number of times before coming to this conclusion.

A doctor, before becoming a doctor, attends medical school to learn about medicine and everything that subject encompasses before practicing on his own. If the individual refuses to be taught, refuses to learn, how qualified would that individual be to practice medicine?

The same holds true for recovery. The newly sober addict must attain attitudes of surrender, humility and willingness in order to be instructed about the nature of addiction as well as what is necessary to maintain sobriety. The humility will not come without the surrender to the power of addiction.

After Surrender, Trust

When one needs surgery the services of a qualified surgeon are sought after. The patient trusts that the doctor knows what needs to be done. The patient trusts his life to the care of the doctor.

As in addiction recovery, to grow a sober lifestyle, the newly recovering addict must trust those who have a solid recovery foundation. These individuals can become the Higher Power, and/or, if the recovering client has a belief in God, God as He is understood, becomes the foundation supplemented with the knowledge and experiences shared by the members in recovery.

As in any teacher/student relationship, the newly recovering, even the more seasoned recovering individual, if he truly wants to remain sober, has the best chances of maintaining sobriety by allowing himself to be taught and supported by others.