The 12-step program is based on the belief that one day at a time we can take control of our lives by making positive changes. Many peer recovery groups use examples of powerlessness in sobriety to help participants accept themselves for who they are. Acceptance includes taking responsibility for our actions and accepting that we cannot change what has happened in the past.
It’s not easy to admit this, but if we don’t accept that we are powerless, then we won’t be able to move forward.
What is Powerlessness?
The term “powerless” describes a feeling of being unable to control one’s life. It’s usually associated with feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and stress. This is because we often feel powerless when our lives aren’t going according to plan.
What Does It Mean to Be Powerless?
The word “powerless” has many different meanings. In this context, it means that someone feels like they don’t have any control over their life. They may feel like they have little choice but to continue using drugs or alcohol because they lack alternatives.
What Groups Use Powerlessness to Benefit Recovery?
Many 12-Step programs are well-known groups that use the concept of powerlessness to benefit recovery. The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Big Book says “powerless over alcohol” as its first principle. AA members believe they cannot control their drinking without the help of a higher power. This belief is what gives them hope and helps them stay sober.
The Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Big Book states that “we were powerless over our drug problem” as its first tenet. Like AA members, NA members believe they cannot control drugs without the help of a higher power.
Other 12-step programs include Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and others. These groups use similar principles, but each has its own unique approach.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
AA defines powerlessness as “a feeling of being unable to control one’s life because of alcohol abuse. It includes feelings of hopelessness, guilt, shame, worthlessness, and fear.” This definition is similar to the way many therapists talk about this issue.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
NA defines powerlessness as “the inability to control one’s life.” This definition implies that someone is powerless if they cannot control their drug use, but it doesn’t specify what happens after they stop using drugs. The group has a lot of information online about its history and philosophy.
The 12 steps of AA are the most common way to address addiction. They’ve proven effective at helping people stay sober. Regarding powerlessness the 12 steps say:
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”[sc name=”blog-cta” ][/sc]
List of Examples of Powerlessness in Sobriety
The following are examples of powerlessness in sobriety:
- Unable to control or set limits with substance use
- Admitting the negative consequences of your addictive behaviors
- Addiction is unmanageable without help despite your best efforts
- Acknowledging shame and guilt over your actions and addiction
- Realizing you don’t know how to handle the situation without guidance
- Unable to identify barriers to getting and staying sober
Most examples of powerlessness in sobriety have to do with admitting that you cannot change your behaviors on your own. Getting help from others at a treatment facility and in peer recovery groups can benefit your sobriety.
Benefits of Understanding Powerlessness in Sobriety
Understanding powerlessness in sobriety can help you manage your addiction. By relinquishing control over your addiction, you are now free to get help and support from others.
Benefits of understanding powerlessness in sobriety include:
- No longer struggling on your own
- Liberating to admit you have no control over addiction
- Don’t need to hit “rock bottom” before getting help
- Understand and accept the disease of addiction
The Difference Between Powerlessness and Unmanageability
Addiction treatment centers often talk about “powerless” as a way to describe the feeling of being unable to control one’s life. This is different from the inability to manage one’s life, which is what most people think of when they hear the word unmanageable. In fact, many people who struggle with addiction feel like they have little power over their disease but still want to change.
When you admit that you are powerless to addiction, you are empowered to reach out for support. By admitting that your life has become unmanageable, you open yourself up to letting go of control and gain acceptance of yourself.
How to Maintain Long-Term Recovery From Addiction
In the long term, maintaining abstinence from alcohol and drugs requires a lot of effort. It takes commitment, willpower, and self-control. The most effective way to stay sober is by using the tools of recovery. This includes attending meetings regularly, getting counseling, practicing mindfulness, and staying connected with others who share similar struggles.
Addiction Treatment in South Florida
Admitting powerlessness in sobriety can empower you to get the help and support you need to manage your life. Ambrosia Treatment Center of South Florida is here to help those who struggle with addiction. To learn more, visit our rehab admissions page today.