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 Anonymus, 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:

Page 6:

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.

Page 60:

That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

Page 61:

Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?

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.

Get Help

If you or a family member needs help getting sober, then call our admissions staff for more information.