Besides powerlessness, unmanageability is a hallmark of addiction. Few people are willing even to consider the actions necessary for recovery unless they feel a lot of unmanageability. In fact, resistance to admitting unmanageability keeps most addicts out of recovery for a long time.

Illusion of Control

Many addicts are reluctant to admit that they are out of control. Their addiction insists they maintain an illusion of control long after they have effectively lost it. This awareness, that you are giving up the illusion of control rather than abandoning control, may make it easier to use Step One as a tool.


The point of admitting that your life is unmanageable is not to regain control of your life. It is to recognize that control is simply not your job.

To recover from addiction, you must surrender the illusion of control. The admission of powerlessness and unmanageability (Step One) prepares you for the gut-level awareness of the need for a Higher Power in your life (Step Two), and a decision to switch over to that Higher Power for guidance (Step Three).

Unmanageability, see also: Abstinence, Bingeing, Control, Crisis, Defenses, Delusion, Half-measures, Hitting bottom, Honesty, Integrity & Values, Intervention, Judgment, Obsession, Powerlessness, Step One, Step Two, Step Five, Steps of AA, Stinking thinking.

Updated 9 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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