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Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery

Celebrate Recovery step 1 is one of the 12 steps in the recovery process. If you aren’t familiar with a 12-step recovery program, you should know there are two main ones – Celebrate Recovery (CR) and Alcohol Anonymous (AA). The CR 12 steps are the same as those for AA.

In Celebrate Recovery step 1, we learn that we are powerless over our hurts, habits, and hangups and that our lives have now become unmanageable. This step is a huge stepping stone as you are now building your road to recovery!

If you’ve just begun Celebrate Recovery, congratulations! You are making a huge difference in your life. Keep going! 

As you walk through this article, get excited! You are doing something wonderful and powerful for your life. 

The tips in this article will help you find success as you move forward. We’ll also help you find the right lessons in the step study guides to follow along with this step, learn more about step studies and CR, and learn how to overcome your issues so that you can see positive progress!

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Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery

What is Celebrate Recovery Step 1?

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 states: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. Step 1 corresponds with Celebrate Recovery Principle 1 of the 8 Celebrate Recovery Principles.

Celebrate Recovery Principle 1 states: Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. The corresponding Bible verse is Matthew 5:3, which states, “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”

To clarify, Celebrate Recovery step 1 is the first step in the 12 steps that make up the Celebrate Recovery program. If this is the first time you are hearing of it, you should read What is Celebrate Recovery? That article explains what Celebrate Recovery (CR) is all about.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has 12 steps in its program, as well. The main difference between the CR and AA versions is one is more secular in nature. Celebrate Recovery has Christ Jesus as its Savior in the program. This is a very important aspect of the 12-step program!

Step one for AA is very similar to that of CR, but if you want to learn more about AA, check out the article by Alcohol on the 12 steps of AA. Both programs are anonymous in nature, meaning you do not need to give your real name or share anything personal if you do not wish to.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. – Romans 7:18 

What Does Celebrate Recovery Step 1 Mean?

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 is probably the hardest step as you have to admit you are powerless and that your life is now unmanageable. You may not feel like your life is that way, so taking this step is more of a leap than a step. Believe me; once you get through this one, it gets easier!

The thing about taking this first step is that it IS “a” first step. You can consider it to be a baby step if you need to or just take it one day at a time. I say it is a leap because you are walking into the wonderful world of recovery with Celebrate Recovery step 1! It will change your life forever!

Let’s look at the main words in this step – powerless and unmanageable


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, when you are powerless, you lack the ability to act, or you just don’t have the strength or resources to take action. This can be quite frustrating. After all, you want to be in control of everything with the ability to take any action you need to.

However, once you admit you cannot control everything, your recovery will go so much better. As the Serenity Prayer states, we need to accept the things we cannot change and pray for the things we can change, and ask for wisdom to know the difference between the two.

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery


If you can sincerely pray that prayer, you are on the right track to stepping out of denial and admitting your life is unmanageable. The definition of unmanageable is difficult or even impossible to control or manage. This is just part of life if you are honest with yourself.

As much as we want to control or manage everything, things just don’t always go according to our “plan.” Instead, we need to trust God’s plan for our lives!

If you know this and can admit your life is unmanageable, you are on your way to completing step one of Celebrate Recovery (or Alcoholics Anonymous)!

So, don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. – Matthew 6:34 (TLB)

How to Accomplish Celebrate Recovery Step 1

Admit you need help by stepping out of denial and realizing you are powerless.

These points are the cornerstone to Celebrate Recovery Step 1. You need to step out of denial. This means that you must confess that you have problems and need help. 

It takes courage to do this, but you can do it! With the CR program, you are not alone; Christ will help you!

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery

Accept that you cannot control everything.

This is a tough one because we often feel as though we can control our surroundings, our life, and even the lives of others. Letting go of control and realizing that we cannot control many things is freeing! It’s actually liberating to let go of control and learn to accept what’s next!

Realize that your life might be unmanageable right now.

Along with control, we must just admit that things are unmanageable. We cannot always control or plan for every event that happens. We can sure as heck try, but it just will not happen every time. If you work with your accountability team and the Lord, you will find success!

Pray for the wisdom that you need to accomplish this step.

Turning to the Lord in prayer will help you tremendously. It’s part of letting go of control and plans. Instead, you turn over the control of everything to the Lord. 

Praying can help you walk in the right direction and help you build your relationship with the Lord. Grow as you do this!

Memorize the Serenity Prayer.

The Celebrate Recovery Serenity Prayer will help you in CR or AA. This prayer has helped millions of addicts overcome their fears as they walk the road to recovery. It takes time to memorize this prayer, but it is so worth the effort. You will be very glad it’s in your head!

Put your faith and trust in God instead of in your earthly plans!

Remember that Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery program. That means that God is our central focus. Work to build your relationship with Him as you walk the road to recovery. He will help you realize success each step of the way.

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery

More Tips for Completing Celebrate Recovery Step 1

  • Don’t beat yourself up as you go through this step; just admit you need help!
  • Be open to Celebrate Recovery. I know it may be new and weird, but if you keep an open mind, you will get much more out of the experience!
  • Repeat the Serenity Prayer over and over again until it is ingrained in your mind. Memorization can be challenging, but that’s the best advice I ever received for memorizing the Serenity Prayer.
  • Print a small copy of the Serenity Prayer to carry around with you in your wallet!
  • Attend Celebrate Recovery meetings and make new friends!

Related: Celebrate Recovery Lesson 1: Denial (Free Study Guide)

Related: Celebrate Recovery Lesson 2: Powerless (Free Study Guide)

Other Celebrate Recovery Step 1 Resources

  • Celebrate Recovery Study Bible – This version of the Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is the NIV version (New International Standard Version). I love it because it is large print but has room inside to take notes in the margins. A recovery Bible is a great resource to use on your road to recovery! Consider purchasing one today!
  • Celebrate Recovery Devotional Book – This Celebrate Recovery devotional book will help you with at least 365 devotions in it – one for each day of the year! You can use this devotional book during your time with God – a time when you should be building your relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • The Celebrate Recovery Blog Series – We’ve mentioned many links in this article to other blog posts on CR. Enjoy the free lesson plans and study guides that go with Celebrate Recovery step 1 (Lesson 1 and Lesson 2). You can grab them at no charge in the Shop on this website. The best place to start is with Lesson 1 or with What is Celebrate Recovery?
  • In the Shop on this website, you will not only find free resources such as study guides to go with the CR lesson plans, but you can discover Celebrate Recovery Serenity Prayer printables. There are a variety of kinds – something for everyone in the Shop. These are perfect for memorization during times of trial on your road to recovery!

A Celebrate Recovery Step 1 Video

Frequently Asked Questions

How many steps are there in Celebrate Recovery?

There are 12 steps in the Celebrate Recovery 12-step program. These steps are the same as the steps in the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) program. They will walk you through one day at a time the 12 steps. If you just consider them as baby steps, you CAN do this!

How do you introduce yourself in Celebrate Recovery?

In Celebrate Recovery, you introduce yourself by starting with your name and declaring yourself as a grateful believer in Christ Jesus. Then, you can list the things you have celebrated recovery from and the things you are still struggling with. Much of this is optional as the program is anonymous!

What is a Celebrate Recovery step study?

The Celebrate Recovery step studies are small groups that usually meet for at least an hour, once a week for several months. This group will likely be your accountability group – the people you trust and can depend on to help you through your recovery program. You will likely meet your sponsor in your step study as well.

What are Celebrate Recovery groups?

The Celebrate Recovery groups vary in topic. The large group is made up of everyone who has attended the Celebrate Recovery meeting that week. The small group is made up of those who are struggling with similar hurts, habits, and hangups. You can make your support group in these groups.

What is denial in Celebrate Recovery?

Denial in Celebrate Recovery typically happens when you have trouble admitting your hurt, habit, or hangup. You might even deny you need to be in recovery at first. However, if we are all honest, we each have something we struggle with and need help with. Everyone can benefit from Celebrate Recovery.

Celebrate Recovery Step 1 | How to Take Step One in Recovery


You now have a better idea of how to step one in recovery. Celebrate Recovery Step 1 is the first step in the 12 steps of this program. It is a powerful step, as you are admitting you need help with your hurt, habit, or hangup.

You should now know that your life is a bit unmanageable because of your problems and that you are powerless. The Lord Christ Jesus can help you through this issue. 

With the resources listed in this article, we hope you are able to find success on your road to recovery! Just have a little faith in the power of God, and believe in yourself! Keep working in the CR program, as it does work! 

I once read that the success rate of CR is over 85%, so continue to work the program! That means going to meetings, working with your sponsor regarding your issues, and attending a step study group! If you put in the work, you will see positive results!!

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