The fifth step in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads as follows:
“We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 5 AA requires us to confess the “exact nature” of our mistakes and wrongs to God, ourselves, and others. In doing so, we are humbling ourselves by fully recognizing the fact that we have behaved in ways that have hurt us as well as our loved ones. Choosing a person to help facilitate the healing process helps us become aware of the things with which we have not been honest concerning our alcoholism.
Often, people who work through this step report experiencing a tremendous amount of emotional relief, in addition to deep personal insight. Completion of this step allows us to return to sanity and offers us a greater recognition of who we are.
A Closer Look at Step 5 AA
By now, we have realized that only by admitting to our addiction can we stop drinking and move forward into recovery. The same is true regarding the confessions we make in step five. Until we honestly share and concede the exact nature of our wrongdoings, we will not likely have the willingness or capacity to choose any other life for ourselves.
During this step, it often feels foreign for some to sit down with another person and discuss one’s character flaws, secrets, and destructive behaviors. However daunting it may seem, upon completion, this act can provide a person with great relief and additional motivation to move on. By honestly sharing one’s worst moment with another, such as a sponsor, one can also begin to develop an image of who he or she would like to become.
The key is to be vulnerable, humble, and not to hold back. Step 5 offers an opportunity for individuals to begin freeing themselves from their past and become open to receiving forgiveness and love. This step is not about shame, blame, or placing judgment. This step is about admitting that we are not perfect, and in doing so, we can begin to figure out what we did wrong in the past. We can then use this insight to find ways to ensure that we do not commit these wrongs again in the future.
Breaking Free From the Cycle
While working through step 5, we will begin to see our unhealthy patterns of behavior, what is driving them, and the reasons for them. At this point in recovery, we can start referring to these destructive patterns of behavior as “character defects.” Moreover, these behaviors usually reflect underlying character flaws, which are the catalyst for much of our unconventional actions.
In fact, this step serves to lead us into step 6, where we will engage in a thorough examination of how each of our defects plays a role in maintaining our active disease. Then, in step 7, we ask God or our higher power to remove them.
Why Working Through Step 5 AA Is Critical
Completing step 5 is essential because most people who suffer from addiction suppress certain damaging memories or keep them hidden away from others. Bringing them out into the open for inspection, however, can actually help to alleviate the distress that they produce.
Alcoholics and addicts are prone to leading a double life, more so than most others. An alcoholic can sometimes become very adept at presenting themselves in ways that he or she wants others to see. After completion of this step, people in recovery are more prepared to face the world, let go of their fears, and foster an improved sense of peace and satisfaction with themselves.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
Over the past few decades, Alcoholics Anonymous has supported millions of people seeking help for the disease that is alcoholism. According to statistics published by the fellowship, in 2016 alone, around two million people worldwide were active members.
It is clear that AA works for those who are motivated to recover, are willing to work the steps, and follow the advice of veteran members and sponsors. That said, research has shown that group support is most beneficial when used as a part of a broader comprehensive program.
These programs, such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea, consist of several evidence-based therapies and holistic practices. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer group support
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness programs
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Art, music, and adventure therapy
- Aftercare planning
If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we would love to enroll you in one of our partial hospitalization or outpatient addiction programs. Although alcoholism is considered to be a chronic, “incurable” disease, it can be effectively treated. We strive to provide all of our clients with the tools and support they need to be successful in their recovery journey.
Are you ready to reclaim the life you deserve? Contact us today and find out how we can help!