A Deeper Look at the 12 Steps: Step 5 of AA
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Some people call it confession. Others call it the most difficult rung on the 12-step ladder to sobriety. Whatever they call it, step five asks recovering alcoholics to admit the precise nature of their faults, first to themselves, then to a higher power, and finally to someone else.
From Self-Reflection to Confession
While step four called for a moral inventory—an admission of weakness—step five takes this process of self-reflection to a new level.
At this stage of the recovery journey, also known as the confession step, patients in Yellowstone Recovery’s Orange County rehab program move past the examination of their inner conscience to the open avowal of their mistakes and poor decisions. This is the point at which they confess their wrongdoings; when they acknowledge the extent of their destructive behavior, not merely to themselves, in the secrecy of their own hearts and in the comforts of their own bedrooms, but out loud to those they trust.
If step four required uncommon courage and humility, the 5th step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) demands an even more extraordinary display of strength and willpower.
Face-to-Face with Fear
As someone approaches the 5th step of AA, it’s not unusual for them to feel an overwhelming sense of fear. Most people have a hard time admitting to themselves that they’re imperfect. Confessing that to God or to another higher power can be even more distressing—but revealing secrets to another person? Sometimes it seems impossible.
Many recovering from drug or alcohol addiction feel as if they are about to jump into an abyss from which they will never return. Even the most seasoned veterans of Alcoholics Anonymous struggle to let go of long-held secrets. It’s common at this stage for people to admit the minor faults, the peccadillos, leaving the truly heart-rending deeds related to alcohol abuse to eat away at their souls. While fear is natural, surrendering to it can derail the recovery process.
A Leap of Faith
Some people gloss over their flaws. Others dwell on them. Either way, it’s unhealthy to keep such feelings bottled up where they can gnaw at the heart and undermine any attempt at progress. Fortunately, no one is alone when they confront step five. Others face the same uphill climb.
As long as each participant approaches the process with an open heart and a sincere disposition, they can learn to overcome fear and open their hearts to another human being. Part of working through step five is learning how to accept the help of others. Trust is crucial. Honesty is non-negotiable.
Winning Freedom from Shame and Loneliness
Step five may be exceptionally tough, but it’s also exceptionally rewarding. Confession breaks the chains of guilt and loneliness that bind people to destructive habits. Only by letting go of the burden of shame can alcoholics return from their self-imposed exile, from the pain of isolation.
It’s here that recovering addicts both receive and give the forgiveness they crave. It’s here they can begin to repair damaged relationships. It’s not easy. Step 5 can knock the wind out of anyone’s ego. It can humble the proudest soul. Yet, out of the ashes can rise a new person—a person more than ever committed to reform.
After Alcoholics Anonymous Step Five
There’s a certain freedom and relief that comes with completing AA step 5. Although you’re not yet halfway through the full 12 step program, completing step five usually signifies the point where most recovering addicts realize they are okay just as they are and can make it to the end.
After step five it becomes more important than ever to lean on your support group and all the benefits they offer your recovery journey.
Before moving on to step six, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I believe my life is better because I completed step five?
- How has my relationship with a higher power and the people I love changed because of step five?
- How has my opinion of myself changed after step five?
- Did I forget or leave out something that will hinder my recovery?
- Have I reached a point where I can ask others for help without dwelling on my faults?
Only once you can positively and confidently answer these questions should you prepare to move on to step six.
Getting treatment and dedicating yourself to completing the 12-step program is critical to your long-term recovery.
If a loved one or you are struggling with alcoholism or addiction and want to overcome it, it’s important to reach out to someone who understands what you’re going through. Yellowstone Recovery in Orange County offers dedicated treatment plans for people struggling with addiction. To learn more about our affordable alcohol treatment facilities and get the help you need, call Yellowstone Recovery at (888) 418-4188 or visit our website.