What does First Things First mean?

The phrase first things first is a slogan, one of many slogans, that are put on cards and displayed at prominent places in many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is likely that in a rehab/treatment center, whether it be an AA meeting, or any type of group therapy there will be a number of slogans on the wall, one of which will be first things first.

At first glance it may seem a bit simplistic to say first things first, as with many slogans it tends to stick in people’s minds and in many ways can cut through a lot of unnecessary chatter in people’s heads, especially as they sit around in a rehab wondering why they are there

When someone gets sober, whether it is in a rehab or in an AA meeting, the world seems a very confusing place. Up until the point of getting sober, most alcoholics will believe that alcohol is the only thing that is really holding them together.

And the worse their life gets the more they believe that actually the one thing they need to do is drink.

Therefore when they arrive in a rehab or in an AA meeting and told that alcohol is the problem, most alcoholics do not believe it. They may know it to be true in one sense, but for most alcoholics alcohol has been the solution and not the problem.

It is highly likely that any treatment center or a rehab that people are admitted to have a number of AA members as staff members, normally nurses who, will have direct experience of their own recovery and will at some level understand this thought process.

A rehab that does not employee qualified nurses who are AA members or therapists who are AA members might find it more difficult to get people to identify with the thought process of an alcoholic.

It is a problem that in some senses only alcoholics really understand. The outside world sees the alcoholic getting drunk and wonders why they don’t stop.

An alcoholic drinks, realises things are getting worse both internally and externally, and will know with certainty that the only solution is to drink more.

Thus when a person ends up in a rehab/treatment center, to them the slogan first things first does not necessarily mean staying sober.

It is only when they are actually sober and begin to realise the nature of that alcoholism do they begin to realise that sobriety is a pre-condition of everything else.

This realisation may come whilst the person is in rehab or it may come when the person has been sober while hopefully in Alcoholics Anonymous.

In either event any time spent in a rehab will be of benefit if the person realises that this way of thinking, that alcohol is the solution to their problem not the problem, is an inherent part of the alcoholism.

Like any illness it is only when someone has a measure of recovery i.e. they get better from it, are they able to look back on it and see it in perspective as being an illness.

It should not be expected therefore that the time spent in a rehab automatically bring this realisation to the fore. It may well take a while.