Step 1- Quandary Admission

This step borrows directly from most recovery methods I’ve studied. The person with the problem must admit to it first, for any meaningful change to happen.

If you’ve gotten this program in an effort to help someone else, don’t give up. You may help them to understand that there is a problem, and there are some resources in the Reading Room portion of my site that address this.

My experience shows that a caring, empathetic approach is best to try first. Try to understand the difficulty involved in confronting this issue for the problem drinker and relate this to them.

Look up your closest phone number for ALANON, a support group setting for people whose lives are affected by alcoholics. You must also convey to the alcoholic the importance to you of their abstention from drinking.

If you have no luck with this approach, a scheduled intervention confrontation may work. This is where you get family, friends, and business associates together to confront the person usually with two basic options: get help or we’re gone.

Do some homework first on this one; it’s a drastic step that may completely alienate the problem drinker. I’d only go to this as a last resort. I have a good friend in my study group who has 13 years of sobriety since he was confronted and sent away to rehab. I also know some examples of problem drinkers who chose to abandon their group of friends and family when this approach was used. Be prepared for this possibility.

To fully come to terms with quandary admission, share the nature of this particular quandary with at least one very close friend after admitting it to yourself. I found that with a majority of the subjects in my study group, attendance of an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting at this stage was considered very helpful.

I personally think that the group therapeutic benefit from attendance of an AA meeting at this stage can be invaluable. It is free of charge (a modest donation of one or two dollars for coffee is accepted but never required). The only requirement to attend an AA meeting is a desire to stop drinking. Phone numbers for further information about AA can be found in most directories. Please understand that while I am not in agreement with the program espoused at AA, and do not represent AA in any fashion, I found attendance of their meetings during quandary admission to be an excellent tool.

At the meeting, you will be admitting to alcoholism and to powerlessness over alcohol. An important difference in opinion will evolve here. While I agree with admitting to powerlessness over alcohol initially, I see your continued abstinence from alcohol as empowering yourself, and believe this mindset to be crucial.

We will further ourselves from traditional 12 step thinking (the program used by AA) at this point with the definition of alcoholism.

ALCOHOLISM: An habitual, self-destructive pattern of alcohol consumption that the alcoholic seems to have no control over.

The main differentiation here is the absence of the word disease, which is for two reasons:

  1. I have not been able to find any proof of alcoholism being a disease.
  2. I feel that hanging the disease label on problem drinking is counterproductive to one’s attempt at abstention.

How does one become an alcoholic if not by disease? This is a question that could be debated at length. My viewpoint is as follows.

The reasons why you evolved to problem drinking may involve extensive soul-searching, and a great deal of energy, without necessarily helping your non drinking effort. I’ve seen examples of recovering alcoholics who get so bogged down in this analysis, that they unfortunately are not able to enjoy sobriety. It’s best to understand now that you are undertaking a tough task. Let’s stay focused on exactly what works, and not waste any energy on anything else.

Having said that, my condensed viewpoint on society’s support network for alcoholism: I believe the support networks in place for drinking combined with long practiced habitual behaviors provide for a devastatingly addictive combination. To the extent that your environment provided a more nurturing place for alcoholism to flourish, you became more susceptible.

What about genetic predisposition? Although there is no definitive proof of a causal link between genetics and alcohol addiction, there are number of studies that make a pretty fair case for it.

Let’s say that by the time you’re reading this report, a genetic link for alcohol addiction has been irrefutably proven, and you’ve tested positive for it. In my mind, the only useful thing you could gain from that knowledge is a specific medication for it.

Unless you are currently working on the miracle medical cure for alcoholism, intense study of why you are an alcoholic or whether or not it is a disease is not recommended for right now.

Try to work this 80/20 rule. Spend at least 80% of your time and energy on the solution and 20% or less on defining the problem.


  1. The bombardment of advertising messages promoting alcohol that you have weathered throughout your lifetime, including when you were a child and had not yet developed any of your adult filters to those messages.
  2. The number of bars within traveling distance of where you live relative to the number of grocery stores.
  3. All of the societal influences that support your drinking habit as a good thing. Toasting to celebrate, the evening nightcap, etc.
  4. Your personal network of family, friends and work associates that support your drinking habits.

As you embark on your adventure into sobriety, these things will most likely become annoyingly clear to you. The specifics of how to deal with situations that will arise as a result of this awareness on your part will be spelled out in steps 3 and 4.



To complete step one, you should have admitted your alcoholism to yourself, to at least one person close to you, and if you can, to an AA meeting.

You should have admitted that you are powerless over alcohol at this time and wish to abstain from drinking. This is not an easy step for most people and you are to be commended! Good job!

You are ready to move on to Step 2.