A Study of Step 5 of the 12-Step Program

Step 5 of AA Explained (Plus Questions To Ask Yourself)

A Study of Step 5 of the 12-Step Program

“Admitted to God (higher power), to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

In the 4th step, you admitted the nature of your wrongs through a moral inventory. In the 5th step, you confess them to yourself, your higher power, and another person. For many, this other person is their AA sponsor or another AA participant. 

This person becomes an important part of the healing process and helps you become aware of your self-delusion and destructive behavior. They help you be honest with yourself and stop believing whatever lies you’ve told yourself as an addict. 

The admission of our defects is challenging but freeing and provides peace of mind. The confession of personal wrong-doings can be painful for many, but it offers mental and emotional relief.

How Does Step 5 Work?

In step five, you admit your mistakes and begin to understand the nature of those mistakes. You speak with another person, often your AA sponsor, and tell them your secrets, character defects, and behaviors that have hurt others. It’s not easy, but nearly everyone who completes this step says that it feels great to no longer carry this burden alone.

Most people discover there are patterns in their behavior during this step of the recovery process. The self-appraisal and sharing of their feelings and experiences help them discover why they act the way they do. AA teaches that these patterns are character defects and the things you do are a reflection of those defects.

This step requires honesty and vulnerability. Most people reveal their defects with their sponsor because this person understands alcoholism. They do not judge or shame you. They listen with compassion and give you space to free your mind and heart without any conditions or shock.

Step five sets you up for steps six and seven, just as the previous steps laid the foundation for this step. This step is the beginning of an in-depth examination of how your defects played a role in why you developed AUD and is necessary before you can ask that your higher power remove those defects.

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Why Should You Do The Fifth Step?

Many find the fifth step to be one of the most difficult of the 12 steps. They experience discomfort, embarrassment, shame, and other negative emotions admitting their worst secrets to someone else. 

However, the relief that comes from sharing this information makes this step valuable. It’s after this step that you can begin to return to sanity and have a clearer understanding of who you are.

Many people with AUD feel as if they are living a double life or acting as a character. They are acting out a story that is not completely true. Once they’ve revealed their defects to someone else, they no longer need to live this double life. This step allows you to let your fears drop away and gives you peace.

Questions to Ask Yourself While Following Step 5 of AA

There are several questions that you can ask yourself and answer that will help you work through step 5, including:

  • How long have I kept my secrets and my defects to myself?
  • How do I feel about admitting them to someone else?
  • Am I ready to tell someone my secrets and let go of them so I can move further through recovery?
  • Do I have any reservations about this step?
  • Am I able to acknowledge and accept the exact nature of my defects?
  • Do I believe this step will improve my life? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Have I scheduled a time and place for my fifth step? Where and when?
  • Has my relationship with my higher power changed because of this step?
  • Has my view of myself changed after this step?
  • Have I forgotten or omitted anything?
  • Is there anything I continue to cling to that doesn’t work and am I willing to ask for help to let it go?

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Tips for How to Complete This Step 

  • Choose the person with whom you will share your defects. For most, this is their AA sponsor. If you don’t have a sponsor, choose someone with whom you are comfortable sharing.
  • Choose a time and place to share your defects that offers privacy and where you won’t be distracted.
  • Bring the personal inventory you compiled in step four.
  • Remind yourself that AA offers a safe and supportive environment. Other participants have struggled just you and they aren’t there to judge you.
  • Put aside your fear of sharing as best as you can. This is a challenging step – it’s supposed to be – but it’s worth the effort.

How Will I Feel After Completing The Fifth Step?

AA participants call this step “painful but rewarding.” It offers emotional and mental relief. It also allows you to gain profound personal insight. 

After this step, you no longer need to run your life according to self-will. Most people are pleasantly surprised to experience less pain and feel serene about their situation. For many people, this is the first time in their lives they’ve felt OK with who they are in the present. They’re able to accept themselves as they are while still committing to improvement in the future. 

AA participants also say that it’s after this step that their relationships begin to change. This not only includes their relationships with other people but also with their higher power.

What's Next?

Источник: https://alcoholrehabhelp.org/treatment/alcoholics-anonymous/step-5/

Step 5: Sharing Your Secrets and Finding that Person You can Trust

A Study of Step 5 of the 12-Step Program

Contributor: David M. Marshall IV of Intervention 911

The twelve steps of AA are built on a foundation of spiritual principals, including courage, trust and honesty (Spiritual Principles in Action, 2009). Step five, which asks us to admit to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, strengthens this foundation and reaffirms our commitment to recovery.

Typically, fear and angst are the first things that come to mind when one contemplates the idea of revealing our deepest held secrets to another, and while we may want recovery deep down, the prospect of discussing the nature of our wrongs and divulging our secrets to anyone may be terrifying. If we allow these feelings to stop our progress at step five, we stop moving forward in our recovery.

Step five instills in us the courage to overcome our fears of rejection and the shame of our confession. When we experience true honesty, we break the pattern of denial that often plagues those of us suffering from addiction (AA Step 5, 2015).

The Courage of Step 5

The courage to work through step five is often a result of the hard work put into the previous four steps, which are the bedrock upon which solid sobriety is found. Therefore, finding the right treatment and aftercare facility to begin the steps and our journey toward recovery is essential.

This article briefly discusses the importance of sharing your secrets in step five and finding that person you can trust, and how treatment can help you and your families build trust and achieve your short and long term treatment goals.

Dumping Guilt and Anger

According to author and addictions counselor Leo Booth (1997), “it is essential for recovery and long-term sobriety that an addict learn to dump his/her guilt and express feelings of anger, resentment, embarrassment, and despair (p. 271).” As an addict myself, I believed that my problem was drugs and alcohol. I never realized that these “things” were merely manifestations of the guilt, anger, and shame I was feeling within.

Before learning to identify and purge these feelings in steps four and five, I would keep these resentments to myself and allow them to affect me spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Inevitably, when the pain became too great and I could find no other way to relieve my dis-ease (sic), I would turn to the bottle and needle in search of comfort.

I knew I was an addict, but couldn’t understand why putting the drugs and alcohol down weren’t enough. I needed a sponsor and months in sober living to help me see that drugs and alcohol weren’t my problem and that I couldn’t get sober alone.

Sharing the Fifth Step with Someone

The person we share our fifth step with should be someone who understands the process of recovery thoroughly. As addicts, breaking the cycle of addiction without help is nearly impossible. Part of recovering is building our self-worth enough to know that what we share is worth listening to, and that we are worthy of forgiveness and respect.

Many choose to complete step five with a sponsor, or someone within our fellowship who understands the process and will help us gain insight into the nature of the wrongs we are confessing (AA Step 5, 2015).

For me, trust was an abstract ideal. It made no sense. What I realize now is that it couldn’t make sense using my old thinking and behavior patterns. I had to learn to trust and it required action on my part.

My Story: Adjusting to the Real World

In January 2015, I was due to leave treatment in Palm Springs and return to New York City. Before leaving, an aftercare representative at my treatment facility sat with me to discuss staying in Palm Springs at Ken Seeley’s sober living. I wanted no part of it. What could sober living do for me? Reluctantly, however, I agreed to stay. It was the best decision I ever made.

Sober living afforded me the opportunity to develop a strong sober network, and slowly adjust to the “real world” with other sober men. It was there that I learned to incorporate the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous into my life and develop trusting relationships with other sober men. It was there I also learned the key to long term sobriety.

By incorporating and creating a team of peers and families, I can better understand that addiction is not solved by 30 day treatment alone. It is a long term, continuum of care that focuses on accountability to a program of recovery.

Being Open with Ourselves

As addicts, it is often difficult for us to be open and honest with ourselves about past behaviors, and trust another addict enough to reveal our secrets. For me, I could not have done this had I not made the decision to focus on my sobriety among other men struggling with the same issues.

With the support of my sober living family, I was able to work through the first four steps with my sponsor, and muster the courage to trust him and be completely honest about my past behaviors. With his help, I was finally able to understand why I drank and used. Working through step five afforded me a new lease on life, and sober living provided the perfect support and setting.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What importance has Step 5 held for you in your recovery? What have you learned that you would to share with someone just starting a recovery program?


  1. AA Step 5 http://www.alcoholic.org/research/aa-step-5 (2015).
  2. Booth, L. (1987). Alcoholism and the Fourth and Fifth Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs doi:10.1080/02791072.1987.10472411, 19 269-274. 
  3. Spiritual Principles in Action http://recoverylife.com/spiritualprinciples.html (2009).

About the

Ken Seeley, founder of Ken Seeley Communities and Intervention911.com is a world renowned interventionist and recovering addict with extensive ties to recovery communities throughout the country.

Ken Seeley offers a wide array of affordable services through Ken Seeley Communities and Intervention911, including his Recovery Advocate Program (RAP), which is a five year recovery plan modeled after the highly successful Doctor’s Diversion and Airline Pilot programs.

These programs include case management, life skills coaching, intensive outpatient services, and sober living, and boast extremely high recovery rates.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 8th, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com

Источник: https://www.addictionhope.com/recovery/step-5-sharing-your-secrets-and-finding-that-person-you-can-trust/

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