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This topic is adapted from the Eric Sitterud YouTube channel. This is part 1 of 7 in the Steps to Recovery series.

The first step of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We admit that we are powerless over our addictions, and that our lives have become unmanageable.”

Only those with problems look for solutions. Can you admit that you have created messes in your life? Perhaps your whole life is a mess, or maybe just a few important parts. Either way, owning the problem – however big or small – is the first step toward recovery. And there are three problems to own up to:

The Problem of Powerlessness

We have to realize we have lost control. It is not under my control anymore. I do things that I later regret doing and tell myself that I will not do them again. But I do. I keep on doing them, in spite of my regrets, my denials, my vows, my cover-ups and my facades. The addiction has become bigger than I am. The first step is to admit the truth of where I am, that I am really powerless over this addiction and that I need help.

Romans 7 in the Bible is a classic passage for addicts that tells how the Apostle Paul was ultimately powerless over the sin in his life apart from the power of God. He had the will to do what is right, but at the same time he also had the inclination to do what brought him into the “captivity of sin”.

Romans 7:15,18,19 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

The Problem of Chaos

Can you admit that your life is full of chaos as an addict? Most people with an addiction wait until they hit rock bottom before they admit that things are not right.  You alone can decide how low that is – and put down the shovel and quit digging. Paul described the chaos that comes from sin in his letter to the Romans:

Romans 7:5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death.

In the facing of our addiction and the taking of our first step, we also become aware of how powerless we are over the sin of our addictive behaviors. We realize that no matter how strongly we might will or want ourselves to be a certain way, to do a certain thing or to not do a certain thing, then we find that we are not able to carry through with that consistently. We find ourselves back to the same old self-destructive behaviors that we have grown accustomed to, that have become so much a part of our lives. In our “flesh”, we are not able to carry on staying away from our addictive behaviors, even though we may want to and know at some level how self-destructive they are. We have been powerless over our addictive behaviors and our life has become unmanageable. And when we can own the problem ourselves, facing it with courage and resolve, then we’ve taken the first step toward recovery.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Warm up.  Are you in the Nile?
  4. Share about a time in your life when you tried to quit your addiction, but couldn’t.
  5. Read Romans 7.  Can you identify with Paul’s struggle?  Can anyone describe what “sin nature” or “flesh” means?
  6. Was there a time when you felt like you had more control over your life?
  7. Do you think that you can still use recreationally?
  8. What would those close to you say you are in Denial about?  Do you agree?
  9. Do you know what a mentor or sponsor is?  If so, do you have one or are you willing to find someone?
  10. Learn and recite the Serenity Prayer.
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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