The first step of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Unmanageable is only printed once in the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which in the first step. It’s left many people to interpret what unmanageable means in the book. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are several different viewpoints that you can hear about unmanageability.
You can take what you want from these three viewpoints that we share.
Even though unmanageable is printed only once, manage is in the book three times:
As the whisky rose to my head I told myself I would manage better next time, but I might as well get good and drunk then. And I did.
That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?
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Unable to Manage Drinking
A.A. groups have said that unmanageable means alcoholics cannot manage the decision to stay stopped. They are going to drink no matter what. When they start, they will do way more than they intended and when they stop, they will eventually start again.
This is a fact about alcoholism. If you have it, then your mind is going to trick you to think you can control and enjoy your drinking like a normal person.
For real alcoholics, if you are enjoying your drinking, you are most likely not controlling it; and if you are controlling your drinking, you most likely are not enjoying it.
Life has Become Unmanageable
Newcomers often are asked how was their life unmanageable.
They will reply by saying things like, they have a DUI, they have relationship problems, career problems, and financial problems. And all of these are true. A newcomer’s life is unmanageable.
It is difficult to manage all the different problems drinking has caused, especially after a major consequence from a spree.
Unable to Manage My Feelings
The Big Book points to a spiritual malady the alcoholic has and cannot get rid of unless they have a spiritual experience through the 12 step program.
With this spiritual malady comes restlessness, irritability, and discontentedness. These feelings are brought on after we wake up from a spree with many consequences and are ready to stop drinking or using for good.
Soon, however, these restless feelings come up and they are truly unmanageable. Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices; family members cannot stop the feelings, gratitude lists, exercise. You name it, it will not stop this feeling of restlessness and discomfort from surfacing.
Soon the alcoholic won’t be able to stop drinking.
Treatment centers that do not incorporate the tools in the recovery process to combat restlessness, irritability, and discontentedness most likely will not work for the chronic alcoholic or someone with substance use disorder.
Powerlessness and Unmanageability
When it pertains to alcohol abuse and substance abuse, you could list many ways that it has become unmanageable.
Even though it is the thing that causes most of the unmanageability, alcohol, and drugs are our only relief. Usually, in this case, alcohol or addiction recovery is needed.
Resources and Additional Reading
AA Literature on Unmanageability
Understanding unmanageability is essential for individuals working through the AA program. AA provides a wealth of resources and literature aimed at this topic. Here are some key resources:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book): This is AA’s main text and outlines the philosophy and methods of the 12-Step program, which includes addressing unmanageability.
- Living Sober is a practical guide to staying sober that can help individuals manage the unmanageability that often comes with early sobriety.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: This book details the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, providing more context for unmanageability.
Scholarly Articles and Books on Unmanageability and Alcoholism
For a more academic perspective, the following scholarly resources delve into the concept of unmanageability and its role in alcoholism:
- Treatment of Addiction: Science and Policy for the Twenty-first Century (Edited by Henningfield, Santora, and Bickel): This comprehensive book offers valuable insights into the causes, treatment, and management of addiction.
- The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited (by George E. Vaillant): This book provides a longitudinal study on the effects of alcoholism, including the concept of unmanageability.
Contact Information for AA and Other Support Groups
If you’re struggling with alcoholism and the associated unmanageability, know that help is available. Here are some addiction resources you can contact for assistance:
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Local meetings and contact information are on their website, www.aa.org.
- Al-Anon: Al-Anon can support friends and family affected by a loved one’s drinking. Their website is www.al-anon.org.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: For individuals and families residing in the U.S. who are grappling with mental health and/or substance use disorders, there is a complimentary, confidential treatment referral and information service available round the clock, all year round. Contact them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- National Association for Children of Alcoholics: If you’re a child affected by a parent’s drinking, you can find resources at www.nacoa.org.
Keep in mind, you’re never alone in this journey, and assistance is constantly within your reach. The journey toward understanding and managing unmanageability may seem challenging, but countless individuals have walked this path successfully, and so can you.
Burning Tree Programs demonstrates a profound commitment to treating addiction, particularly for individuals grappling with chronic relapse and long-term substance use disorders. A key element of our treatment model is incorporating Alcoholics Anonymous. By integrating the tenets of AA and encouraging the conscious recognition of unmanageability in one’s life, Burning Tree Programs fosters an environment of self-awareness and accountability.
Our comprehensive approach to recovery, combined with long-term residential treatment and dual diagnosis capabilities, prepares clients to successfully navigate the path to sustained sobriety. Remember, acknowledging unmanageability is a critical first step toward recovery. With the support of dedicated professionals at facilities like Burning Tree Programs and the guiding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, individuals can overcome addiction and reclaim control of their lives.
Don’t allow addiction to dictate your life’s path. Reach out to Burning Tree Programs and discover the path to lasting recovery.