Alcohol Recovery Program Help: The 5th Step

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

Once you’ve completed your 4th step inventory in the 12 step alcohol recovery program, it’s time to move on to step five. In this step, you are asked to share your wrongdoings with another individual or group. Once you see all of your wrongs and misdeeds spelled out on paper from the inventory you compiled in step four, you may be hesitant to share. This is 100 percent normal. But you can take comfort in the fact that so many have stood in your shoes.

The Freedom In Sharing Your Secrets

There’s a saying in AA: you’re only as sick as your secrets. This little gem will come up now and then, but in reality it has a direct connection to the 5th step. Our secrets are often our undoing and will in many cases lead us straight back to a drink or other intoxicant. Overcoming the desire to keep secrets is one of the biggest obstacles to moving forward with your recovery. Many newcomers try to hide certain facts about themselves, thinking that if they don’t tell anybody that it will just go away. Think of the 5th step as a vital part of your housecleaning in an alcohol recovery program. It is a place where you have the opportunity to lose your fear, your egoism, and to humble yourself fully and completely.

Is that the worst you’ve got?

Breaking down your ego is the surest way to remove many of the barriers to sobriety you have so carefully constructed over the years. But it’s not about debasing yourself in front of another human being. The truth is that most alcoholics have probably done everything you’ve done, and some even worse. Once you’ve completed the 5th step, baring your heart and soul to another, you’ll likely look them in the eye expecting judgment. What you’ll often find, however, is someone looking back at you, saying “I’ve been there too. What else you got?”

Finding the Right Person

The fifth step sets us free in a way. It gives us a freedom to live in the here and now. But as with any one of the 12 steps, it is important to feel comfortable enough to allow yourself to share. Choose a person who you trust and feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be your sponsor, but it could be. It doesn’t even have to be a friend, but it could be. The person should be somebody you can let go with, someone who you feel can accept your truth, no matter what it is.

Try to choose somebody who will not be judgmental, such as a spouse, family member or romantic partner. The right person will be a good listener that can help you sort out where you need to accept responsibility and where you do not. Many people seek out a member of the clergy to complete their 5th step. The combination of confidentiality and non-judgmental acceptance may help, especially if you are concerned with any legal ramifications of your actions. But this is your choice, and you should find peace with it, either way.

Alcohol Recovery & Sober Living in Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.

12 Step Recovery  – Step Four

 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

This post continues our series on the steps of the 12 step recovery program. When we arrive at step four, it is only after a great deal of soul searching. We know what has brought us to this point, but how do we get past all the damage we have caused? It would be easy to ignore the hurt and disappointment we have left in our wake—but for true recovery, that’s just not feasible. The fourth step asks us to go deep. In this step, we detail all the ways we have wronged ourselves and others. Most importantly, it asks us to identify our role in the situation: what did we do or say to get us here?

Moving Past Self-Justification and Taking Inventory

The behavior we are being asked to address in this part of the 12 step recovery program is part of the natural pursuit of what makes us human: sex, money, career goals, personal happiness, professional accolades. These things, in and of themselves, are not abnormal or bad. Instead, it’s the way we went about them under the influence of alcohol or drugs that has caused trouble: “Imposing our instincts unreasonably upon others” is how the Big Book puts it. When we don’t get our way, indignation and resentment may set in, and instead of directing blame at ourselves, we may assume it’s the fault of someone or something beyond ourselves. Self-justification is one of the biggest obstacles to recovery, and it is often rooted in self-pity and unwarranted pride.

Overcoming Obstacles: Your Sponsor to the Rescue

One of the greatest things about the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous is that you are never alone. Your sponsor, whether he or she has nine months, a year or double-digit years of sobriety, can be your touchstone through this stage. They are well-positioned to help you understand that your situation is not unusual. They have walked in your shoes. By sharing their own personal challenges in completing the fourth step, they can help you be more objective when you are taking stock of your own situation. By helping you to look without judgement at the events in your life that have created your most deeply held resentments, you may finally be able to see your own role in what created these circumstances. Even if the underlying issue was not your fault, it’s how you responded to it that caused the damage.

A Personal Journey of Self-Discovery

The ultimate goal of step four is to remove resentments and to free yourself from the anger, blame and feelings of humiliation that they cause. While disclosing certain behaviors and actions you’ve taken to justify them may be embarrassing and painful at first, any sober individual in the program can tell you that completing step four took a massive weight off their shoulders. In completing your inventory, you will have a much better idea of where you are blocked, and you will be able to proceed toward reparations.

Tips for Completing the 4th Step

There are four headings under which you should write your inventory, including: 1. Resentments, 2. Fears, 3. Sex and 4. Harm to others. The last is integral, as in the 8th step you will be asked to make amends. If you complete your 4th step inventory honestly, you will already have a solid list to work from.

Keep in mind this is not your life story. Keep it simple and to the point. You’ll know what it all means and can expand on what you need to in step 5 without referring back to a needlessly voluminous text. That’s the beauty of the 12 step recovery program. It allows you to take things, well, step by step. No need to get overwhelmed. Don’t get hung up on the details. Just stick to the facts.

Above all, this stage of 12 step recovery is about uncovering the truth within ourselves. It’s a fact-finding mission. Have fun with it, and don’t let any negative comments from others in the program stop you from getting it done. Once you’ve gotten through it, you’ll know yourself better, and it’s really amazing how much lighter you’ll feel for it, guaranteed.

Encouraging 12 Step Recovery in Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.