The fifth step in the 12 efforts of Alcoholics Anonymous states as follows:
“We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
In doing this, we are humbling ourselves by wholly recognizing that we have behaved in ways that have harmed us and those closest to us. Choosing an individual, such as an AA sponsor, to help facilitate the healing process helps us become conscious of the things we have not been honest about with regard to our alcoholism.
Often, people who work this step report experiencing a significant amount of emotional relief, in addition to deep personal insight. Completing this step allows us to return to sanity and greater recognition of who we are.
A Closer Look at Step 5 AA
By this time, we have realized that only by admitting to our addiction can we quit drinking and move forward into long-lasting recovery. The same is true regarding the confessions we make in step 5. Until we can honestly share and admit to the exact nature of our wrongdoings, we will not likely have the willingness or ability to choose any other life for ourselves.
During this step, it may feel foreign to sit down with another person and discuss one’s character flaws, secrets, and destructive behaviors. However daunting it may seem, this act can provide a person with great relief and additional motivation to move on upon completion. By sharing one’s worst moment with another, such as an AA sponsor, one can also start to develop a picture of who they would like to become.
The key is to be humble, vulnerable, and not to hold back. Step 5 offers an opportunity for people to begin liberating themselves from their past and become open to receiving love and forgiveness. This step is not about shame, blame, or judgment. Instead, it is about admitting that we are not infallible, and in doing so, we can begin to find out what we did wrong in the past. We can then use this insight to identify ways to ensure that we do not commit these wrongs again in the future.
Breaking From the Cycle
While working on step 5, we will begin to see our harmful patterns of behavior, what is driving them, and the reasons behind them. At this point, we can start referring to these destructive patterns of behavior as “character defects.” Moreover, these behaviors usually reflect innate character imperfections, which are triggers for many of our unconventional actions.
In fact, this step serves to propel us into step 6, where we will engage in a thorough evaluation of how each of our shortcomings plays a role in sustaining our active disease. Subsequently, in step 7, we ask God or our higher power to remove them.
Why Working Through Step 5 AA Is Vital
Completing step 5 is crucial because most people who suffer from addiction suppress certain damaging memories or keep them hidden away from others. However, bringing them out into the open for inspection can actually help relieve the distress that they produce.
Alcoholics and addicts are susceptible to leading a double life, more so than most others. As a result, an alcoholic can sometimes become adept at presenting themselves in ways they want others to see. After completing this step, people in recovery are more equipped to face the world, release their fears, and foster an enhanced sense of peace and satisfaction.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
For the past few decades, Alcoholics Anonymous has successfully supported millions of individuals seeking help for the disease of alcoholism. According to statistics published by the organization, in 2016 alone, around two million people worldwide were active members.
It is clear that AA can work well for those who are motivated to recover, willing to perform the steps, and ready to follow the advice of veteran fellows and sponsors. That said, evidence has shown that group support is most helpful when used as a part of a more comprehensive program.
These programs, such as those offered by Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery, consist of several research-based therapies and holistic approaches. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer group support
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Adventure therapy
- Aftercare planning
If you are grappling with a drug or alcohol addiction, we urge you to enroll in one of our partial hospitalization or residential treatment programs. Although alcoholism is considered a chronic, “incurable” disease, it can be effectively treated. We strive to provide those we treat with all the tools and support they need to succeed in their recovery journey.