Fear and anger can fuel problem drinking. But alcoholism is a treatable condition, one that has been studied scientifically. Plus, you don’t have to go to A.A. to take the first step or complete Step 1 of the 12 Step process. Honestly admitting you are powerless over alcohol will help get you on your way.
So, where can you go for help to speak with a professional who understands you and can be trusted? We review taking the first step towards getting help for problem drinking here. And offer you five (5) alternatives for asking for help. Then, we invite your questions or feedback at the end. In fact, we’ll try to answer you personally.
Taking the First Step: Admitting We Are Powerless
For many alcoholics, the most important phase of getting help is admitting we have a problem. In 12-step programs like A.A., that means taking the first step.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
If you were anything like me, you spent years in denial, even though it was obvious with all the hangovers, humiliating behavior, and blackouts that you needed help. Maybe you came from a family of heavy drinkers or surrounded yourself with people who drank as much as you, so it was hard to see the problem. Until you finally hit the bottom that knocked you on the head.
It took me twelve long years to strip the denial that I carried like a shield, protecting me from the fear that also drove my drinking. The thought of losing something that was so dear and such a part of who I was terrified me. And of course, I married a man who kept the shield polished with his daily drinking. Both of us alcoholics high-functioning enough to hide it from the rest of the world. So for me and many other alcoholics, taking the first step was a process.
How can you swallow “powerlessness”?
You can think about the “first part” of the first step in many ways. However, there is a strength in powerlessness; it does not need to mean that YOU are a failure. Instead, you are simply saying that you are unable to control alcohol intake. When you accept that alcohol triggers cravings which lead to chaos, you let go. And when you no longer believe that you can ever drink safely, you are open to change.
The alternative is the same road you’ve traveled many times before: same belief, same behavior, same results. If you hold onto the idea that you may be able to drink normally, you can sabotage the process. You may be able to stop drinking in the short term, but you open yourself to relapse. And if pride or ego do not allow you to open up to the idea that you have NO CONTROL of alcohol, you do not lay the foundation of recovery, which is to live life focusing on others.
Trying to control drinking doesn’t work
For years, I tried to control my drinking so I wouldn’t have to give it up. I cut back on the days of the week I drank and limited myself to wine and beer. I believe now it was all part of the surrendering process. The letting go of the tight grip we have on our addiction and finally accepting the fact that the only way to find peace with it is to let go.
In 2004, Robert Downey Jr. told Oprah Winfrey, “When someone says, ‘I really wonder if maybe I should go to rehab?’ Well, you might want to give it a shot.” He added that after his last arrest he didn’t think he could continue doing this and reached out for help. He also said, “It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems…what’s hard is to decide to do it.”
Deciding to get help
If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. And you don”t have to go to A.A. to do the first step. Honestly admitting you are powerless over alcohol will help get you on your way.
STEP 1 THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- For many alcoholics, taking the first step is a process.
- Admitting we are powerless is part of that process.
- The first step is the most important one.
- The hardest part is deciding to do it.
Where Alcoholics Can Go For Help: 5 Tips
1. Take a self-assessment test for alcohol problems.
How can you tell if you have an alcohol problem? If you think you have a drinking problem, chances are you probably do. It might be helpful to take this self-test issued by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in order to identify possible alcoholism.
2. Seek out support groups.
If the test leans towards a problem, attending a 12-step meeting like A.A., SMART Recovery, or Rational Recovery may be good places to go next. Try a few different meetings before making a decision which one is best for you.
3. Seek one-on-one professional help.
Talking to a psychologist, therapist or counselor will also help. The American Psychological Association operates a “Find a Therapist” directory on their website. It”s a good place to start.
4. Look into treatment centers that treat alcoholism.
Many mental health clinics offer intensive outpatient programs, often referred to as IOPs, for those seeking help for alcohol and substance abuse. While residential rehab may work for some, other people find that a treatment center is the best option for them.
5. Make sure the family is treated.
And lastly, if someone”s else”s drinking troubles you, attending an Al-Anon meeting might be helpful. The CRAFT model for intervention, which requires family participation and training is also helpful.
Questions about help for alcoholics
Do you feel alone and need help with drinking? Please reach out to us now. Send us a message in the comments form, and we’ll try to get back with you ASAP. Please know that we try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.