Why Does Jaywalker Focus So Heavily on the First Step?

A woman supports a man admitting he has an addiction and needs help.

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Our programming at Jaywalker focuses closely on the first step of the 12-Step philosophy through written step one work. The first step, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable,” becomes a crucial part of treatment because many live their lives in denial of the severity of their situation. Understanding the full scope of addiction can help a person fully accept the problem and do what they can to solve it.

Different Walks of Life

At Jaywalker, we have many different people who enter our treatment center. They come from diverse backgrounds and have had many different experiences. Each person has a unique level of understanding of how substance use affects their lives. They all have in common that they need help, though, whether with breaking the habit or understanding why they need to end the vicious cycle in the first place.

Many might have a general idea of how and why substance use harms their lives. Still, some don’t enter into treatment because they aren’t interested and might resist addressing underlying concerns. But most simply aren’t aware of how deeply they are affected by their choices and how it has harmed them. It helps to know why you need to be here in the first place to begin healing.

Denial Isn’t Just a River in Egypt

Even if our Jaywalkers are aware on an intellectual level that they need to go through their program to make essential changes in their life, there still might be hesitancy because they aren’t entirely on board with the idea. There still might exist some doubt. On the flip side, people who come to Jaywalker might be in complete denial about the extent of their problem or might not believe that they have a problem at all and are just going through the motions to get their families and friends to leave them alone.

Denial is a significant issue for someone wishing to have a successful recovery because if they can’t confront their problems honestly, they won’t likely make any progress. As they say, “The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.” Admitting that your life has become unmanageable due to substance use isn’t just a surface-level acceptance, but rather a deeply emotional and spiritual realization of how bad things have gotten and accepting that it’s your job to fix it.

Admitting Your Powerlessness

It isn’t easy to conclude that substance use is affecting your life to the degree that it often is indeed affecting your life. It can even be a scary realization. It’s hard to admit that you don’t have control over your life. It’s even harder to hold yourself accountable for how your actions affect others. Treatment requires us to do this to move forward with healing. However, you might not realize that admitting you are powerless when you use substances and that your usage is out of control is empowering. You acknowledge that you have a weakness, and there is strength in that. Jaywalker focuses intensely on coming to that conclusion because it is vital that a person in treatment fully comes to it and owns it.

Dishonesty Is a Road to Relapse

Those who just go through the motions in treatment are more likely to relapse because they haven’t honestly looked at what is going on in their lives. They cheated their way out of genuinely discovering what was setting them back. Since they aren’t fully aware of how substance use affects their lives, they tend to revert to their old habits. They aren’t aware of the consequences of continued use. They haven’t accepted that they aren’t in control of how substances affect them and their life. They might be substance-free when they leave treatment, only to inevitably use again because they haven’t come to terms with what substance use is doing to their lives. They were dishonest with the people helping them, and they were dishonest with themselves. By not opening themselves up to the possibility that they are powerless and that substance use is a weakness they need to address, they are only doing themselves a disservice.

Taking the First Step

At Jaywalker,  we encourage our clients to undergo intense and much-needed soul searching. Through our many activities, Jaywalkers can delve deep into the first step. Talking to peers battling addiction and speaking with licensed therapists about how substance use has affected them can guide them to admit how deeply addiction affects them.

It’s hard for people to realize that they have a problem, mainly because of the stigma and shame surrounding addiction. Their families might also be in denial, which can set up for toxic situations that only further enable the very thing that is actively destroying their lives. This is why Jaywalker believes it’s crucial to master the first step in the 12-Step philosophy. Until you have accepted on a deep level how addiction has affected your life and that substance use has made you powerless, recovery won’t take place. The belief you can successfully use on occasion or in moderation won’t help you in your present state, and treatment may not succeed. If you are interested in learning more about Jaywalker’s approach to treatment and recovery, please call us today at (866) 529-9255. We offer unique treatment plans tailored to our client’s specific needs, focusing on the 12-Step philosophy and how to apply it to everyday life.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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