The journey to recovery from addiction is a challenging one, but it offers profound opportunities for personal growth and transformation. In the context of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), one of the most critical steps in this journey is Step 5.
Step 5 of AA is pivotal in the alcohol addiction rehab process as it involves taking a deep and honest look at oneself, confronting past mistakes, and sharing them with another person.
Keep reading to learn more about Step 5, how to complete it, where it fits in with the other 11 steps, and how Crestview Recovery in Portland utilizes the 12 steps as part of our addiction treatment programs.
What is Step 5?
Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is part of the 12-step program that provides a structured path to recovery for individuals struggling with addiction. Specifically, Step 5 is articulated as follows:
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Essentially, what Step 5 is all about is honesty, self-reflection, and accountability. It involves acknowledging and sharing the wrongdoings, character defects, and moral inventory that was compiled in Step 4 of AA.
What is the Purpose of Step 5?
The purpose of Step 5 in the overall 12-step model can be broken down into several key components such as self-examination, honesty, accountability, and spiritual connection.
Step 5 encourages individuals to take a thorough inventory of their past actions, thoughts, and behaviors. This self-examination is essential for personal growth and recovery because it helps the person identify patterns of behavior that contributed to the addiction.
By admitting the exact nature of your wrongs not just to yourself but to another person as well, you are practicing honesty. Honesty is a crucial step toward breaking the cycle of denial that often accompanies addiction.
Sharing your wrongdoings with another person doesn’t just allow you to practice honesty, it also allows you to work on your accountability by taking responsibility for your actions. By practicing accountability, you are able to confront the consequences of your previous transgressions and begin the process of making amends.
While a significant portion of Step 5 involves being honest and open with ourselves and other people, it also involves being open and honest with God. By opening yourself up to God, or the higher power of your choice, you are making a spiritual connection with that higher power as part of the recovery process. This connection can provide strength and guidance throughout your journey.
Why is Step 5 Important?
While all 12 Steps are important in their own right and are all crucial to the overall recovery process, Step 5 is particularly important for a number of reasons.
For starters, Step 5 requires you to open up and be honest and accountable when it comes to previous things you may have done while drinking. By being forced to confront the reality of your actions and behaviors it removes any chance to still be in denial.
Being honest and accountable also allows you to begin to build trust back with those you may have hurt while drinking. This is also a goal of family therapy programs. Letting others know exactly what you did wrong shows them that you are ready to accept your actions and consequences and move ahead towards working on building that trust back.
All of these things can ultimately promote emotional healing. The act of sharing deep-seated emotions and regrets can be emotionally cathartic as well as provide a sense of relief and freedom from the burden of past mistakes.
How Do I Complete Step 5?
Completing Step 5 involves several essential steps. These steps are:
Find a Person You Can Confide In
When deciding on who you can confide in, make sure you pick a person that you not only trust but also one that you feel comfortable sharing information with. While many people turn to their sponsor for this step, it is not a requirement. Just make sure it is someone you are comfortable opening up to.
Schedule A Time To Meet
After you have chosen the person and they have “accepted” taking on that role, you will want to arrange a time for the two of you to sit down and talk in private. You may choose to do this either before or after an AA meeting for convenience or at another time that works for both parties.
Be Open and Honest
At the meeting, share the inventory you compiled in Step 4 in an open and honest manner. Step 5 is only effective if you are open and honest about everything and don’t hold anything back.
It’s important when sharing to be as specific as possible about your wrongs, actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Step 5 is a time for complete and total unfiltered self-disclosure.
While Step 5 is about opening up and being honest with both yourself and another person, it’s also about listening and allowing feedback in order to grow. Part of the role of your confidant is to listen and provide feedback, support, and guidance. It is important that when they share that information with you, you listen with an open mind. After all, they are there to help you.
Prepare to Make Amends
Step 5 often lays the groundwork for Step 8, which involves making amends to those you have hurt. Use this time of honesty and reflection to start thinking about how you will make things right with the people you have wronged. You can even turn to your confidant for guidance and support as you navigate this process.
How Does Step 5 Help Me Overcome Addiction?
While Step 5 is just one step in the 12-step program, it does play a crucial role in the overall recovery process. By admitting your wrongs not to yourself but to your higher power and another person, you become accountable. Accountability is a key component of addiction recovery.
Additionally, by opening up and being honest about your past behaviors, it allows you to gain clarity about how your addiction came about in the first place. Understanding the root causes of your addiction can help prevent a relapse in the future.
How Does Step 5 Relate to the Rest of the 12 Steps?
Step 5 is an integral part of the 12-step program, and its completion paves the way for the subsequent steps:
- Step 6: After completing Step 5, you’re prepared to become willing to have your character defects removed in Step 6. The honesty and accountability cultivated in Step 5 make this willingness possible.
- Step 7: Step 7 involves asking your higher power to remove your character defects. The spiritual connection established in Step 5 continues to play a significant role in this step.
- Step 8: In Step 8, you make a list of all the people you have harmed and become willing to make amends. Step 5’s process of acknowledging wrongdoings provides the foundation for this step.
- Step 9: Step 9 involves making direct amends to those you have harmed, and the insights gained in Step 5 help you approach this step with humility and sincerity.
- Steps 10-12: Step 5 sets the stage for a lifetime of self-reflection and growth. Steps 10, 11, and 12 involve daily inventory, continued spiritual connection, and helping others, all of which are enhanced by the foundation of honesty and accountability built in Step 5.
Can My Sponsor Help Me With Step 5?
As we touched on earlier, not only can your sponsor can help you with Step 5, but many people turn to their sponsor specifically when choosing a person to be honest with. After all, sponsors are experienced members who have successfully worked through the 12 Steps and can provide guidance, understanding, and a safe space for sharing.
Should you choose your sponsor to be the person that you go on the journey that is Step 5 with, they may be able to offer valuable insights, help you stay on track, and provide emotional support during the process.
If you don’t have a sponsor or would prefer to use someone else for Step 5, that’s okay too. Like we said earlier, the key to Step 5 being successful is being open and honest and, in order to do that, you need to make sure you pick someone that you can be open and honest with.
Using Step 5 of AA at Crestview Recovery
Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous is a pivotal step in the journey of recovery from addiction. It is a powerful tool for self-examination, accountability, and personal growth. By admitting the exact nature of your wrongs to yourself and another person, you open the door to healing, trust, and a deeper connection to your higher power.
At Crestview Recovery, we understand the importance of not just Step 5 but all 12 Steps as it relates to the recovery process. That’s why we incorporate the 12 Steps into our alcohol addiction treatment program.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction of any kind, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.