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Guide for Step 10 of AA

Step 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to help people who struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) break unhealthy patterns of behavior and overcome the cycle of addiction. Every step is designed to further their personal growth and brings them closer to maintaining long-term sobriety. The 10th step of AA states the following: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”1

What Is AA Step 10?

Step 10 of AA promotes consistent self-examination. Taking the time and effort to reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and actions can make people more self-aware. These realizations can, in turn, help them go through the recovery process more smoothly. Once they understand themselves better, they may have a better grasp of their triggers and learn how to control the urges to misuse alcohol. They can also find the strength to forgive others’ transgressions and ask those they’ve hurt for forgiveness and understanding.2

Step 10 of AA emphasizes personal inventory, which can be explained as a set of problems that typically lead to using drugs and alcohol. These are unique to every individual. Staying alert and acknowledging these problems as they emerge may be vital to the person’s recovery and subsequent well-being. While making mistakes over the course of one’s recovery is normal and understandable, it is important to recognize and correct these mistakes before they escalate. This way, the recovering individual can stay on the right track.2

What Is the AA Step 10 Prayer?

The 12 steps of AA each have a corresponding prayer and the 10th step prayer is as follows: “God, please help me watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up in me, help me to immediately ask you to remove them from me and help me discuss these feelings with someone. Help me to quickly make amends if I harmed anyone and help me to resolutely turn my thoughts to someone I can help. Help me to be loving and tolerant of everyone today. Amen.”3

The step 10 prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous is a way of learning to acknowledge one’s mistakes, make amends to the people you wronged, and ask for forgiveness. According to AA step 10, the person undergoing the program needs to closely observe the effects their actions have on others. Empathizing with people they have hurt and doing their best to make things right are all parts of the process.3

Alcohol addiction usually brings pain not only to the person in question but also to their loved ones. This part of the 12-step process may be the first step toward reconnecting with the people they have hurt. The step 10 prayer encourages the person to reach out and apologize to those who were affected by their actions.3

While the other side may decide to take or reject the apology, the outcome is not crucial for the completion of step 10. It is only up to the recovering individual to do their part. To find the strength to do this, the prayer suggests seeking the help of people sympathetic to their struggles. It ends in the spirit of love, tolerance, and acceptance, which are all routinely nurtured as part of AA support group meetings.3

What Are the Benefits of AA Step 10?

While it may seem that the better part of the work is behind you at step 10 of AA, a risk of relapse is still present. You may experience situations that will provoke an impulsive reaction. For example, you might be inclined to lash out and say hurtful things when a loved one criticizes you. While this can happen to anyone, learning to identify such behaviors and apologize is an important life lesson.2

Step 10 of AA encourages self-reflection and a sharper focus on improving one’s behavior. After completing steps 1 through 9, this is another opportunity to gain greater insight into one’s own actions and take control over them. Understanding yourself and having a better grasp of your impulses can be very helpful when it comes to curbing destructive tendencies, like substance abuse.4

Apart from accepting and acknowledging past mistakes, step 10 of AA requires keeping a daily inventory of thoughts and actions as well as promptly admitting to one’s wrongs and asking for forgiveness.6 In other words, it means taking ownership of one’s own emotional disturbances such as angry outbursts or impulsive reactions. This may improve the individual’s relationships and lead to a more fulfilling and purposeful existence.7

To summarize, the benefits of step 10 of AA include:7

  • Alleviating shame and stigma, which allows the individual greater freedom from temptation
  • Better anger management skills, that further enhance resilience to various types of emotional triggers
  • Feeling of deeper connection with others, as a positive source of support for further steps
  • Leaving resentment in the past, while living in the moment.

AA 10th Step Inventory

AA step 10 encourages participants to practice humility, acceptance, and forgiveness. Keeping a daily inventory requires persistence and constancy, but it is a useful practice that keeps one in check and further facilitates recovery. There are many different types of daily inventories, some of them taken on the spot, while others are taken at the beginning or at the end of a day, as a summary.2

The purpose of taking a personal inventory during step 10 of AA is to achieve a new skill set of adequate self-appraisal.2 This is why this phase puts great emphasis on introspection. Individuals get the chance to learn more about themselves, their personality types, interests, and the truths that define them. This way, they will be more likely to build healthy relationships and habits and keep them from relapsing into addictive behavior.2

Step 10 of AA personal inventory would require an individual to take their time for daily reflection and to consciously implement positive behavioral patterns in order to make the program more effective. At the same time, you will map problematic behavior and attitudes that might be putting you at risk of relapsing. You will also make a list of your triggers for addictive behavior and develop a plan to prepare and guard yourself against them. Finally, individuals get to learn how to make amends and remedy past and present harmful situations without relapsing into addiction.2,6

What Can Help Individuals Work Through Step 10 of AA?

There are certain things that recovering individuals can do on a daily basis to enhance their routine and keep up with their 10th step AA inventory. This includes keeping track of their wrongdoings, dishonesty, and resentment. It is a conscious effort to steer away from anger, frustration, and despair. There are certain activities that can enhance your recovery process while working through step 10 of AA:2

  • Keep a diary so that you’d be able to be aware of your progress.
  • Practice mindfulness and similar meditative practices.
  • Learn a variety of breathing techniques.
  • Occupy yourself with physical activity.
  • Read an interesting book.
  • Work on a project that will keep your free time structured.
  • Remember to take accountability and practice humility in your daily interactions.

What Is Some Useful Advice for Completing AA Step 10?

While a person is working through step 10 of AA, they may struggle with certain aspects of their worksheet. There are some helpful tips that can make the process easier for people in recovery:7

  • Take a closer look at your past and stay alert in the present: Recognizing destructive patterns is the beginning of taking accountability for your mistakes and poor decisions. Training yourself to notice these will be a helpful tool for the future.7
  • Discerning what lies within and outside of one’s control: While this step is about taking action and showing initiative to make amends, some things will remain outside of your control. Progress might require giving up perfectionism.7
  • Make peace with things you can’t change: For example, it is your responsibility to apologize for your behavior, but the other person has to decide whether they accept the apology. You will need to let go of control here and let things take their course.5
  • Be cautious when making important decisions and changes: Learn from your mistakes and apply these lessons in similar future situations. For example, avoid putting yourself in situations that could trigger unwanted behavior.2
  • Practice forgiveness yourself: Adopt an empathetic approach to the people around you and forgive others without necessarily expecting the same in return.2
  • Don’t get intimidated by the terminology. For example, if you’re irreligious, you might be more inclined to imagine your Higher Power as something else rather than a personal God.3,7 
  • Master relaxation techniques: If you struggle with meditation, focus on quick breathing exercises or take up sports instead. There is no one size fits all option here, so experiment with different ones until you find something that helps.7

What Questions Are in the Step 10 AA Worksheet?

During the process of recovery, many individuals find it useful to keep asking themselves a number of questions on a daily basis. Your AA 10th step checklist can include the following questions:4

  • How do you tell the difference between actions and feelings?
  • Have there been times during the recovery process when you were wrong but unaware of it for some time?
  • How do your mistakes affect your life and the life of others around you?
  • What is the significance of step 10 to your life? How does taking ongoing personal inventory help you? 
  • What does it feel like to promptly forgive and ask for forgiveness? How does humility feel? Is it something new to you?  
  • Have there been any situations where you were wrong but were unwilling to admit to it? Did you feel uncomfortable?
  • What does it mean to live in the present? How does the 10th step help you achieve that?
  • What has changed in my everyday functioning as a result of AA step 10?

How to Conclude Step 10 of AA and What Comes Next?

It may be useful to remember that the spiritual purpose of Step 10 of AA is Perseverance. You will no longer have to actively struggle against anything, even the temptation to use alcohol, as this is the promise of step 10. When you go through the full course of this step, accepting your mistakes and acknowledging how it affects your life and the life of the people around you, you will be well prepared for step 11.6

In the next step, you will intuitively learn how to handle difficult situations instead of simply avoiding them. Practicing restraint may give you a chance to resist further temptations and see how your obedience to the higher power worked out.7

How to Find Help and Go Through AA Step of 10?

Finding help for alcohol addiction is doable. To set the recovery process in motion, struggling individuals can call a specialized alcohol hotline staffed by caring operators. These helplines can provide useful information, such as the different treatment modalities offered, locations of alcohol rehab centers that fit your needs, various financing possibilities at your disposal, and the costs associated with alcohol addiction treatment.8

These are some of the numbers you can call for support and information:9,10,11

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is available around the clock and helps individuals struggling with substance use and mental illness as well as their loved ones: 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) specializes in helping individuals battling alcohol and substance use addiction: 1 (800) NCA-CALL (622-2255)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides help for people experiencing suicidal thoughts and other mental health disturbances: 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) 

Generally, recovery starts with a detoxification program, which will help you or a loved one process alcohol out of your system in a safe and monitored environment. Depending on their needs, the patient may enter a 3, 5, or 7-day program to get help with withdrawal or the detox may take a longer time. It is then followed by rehab, the duration of which can also vary. For example, many inpatient programs in comfortable residential facilities take several months, but there are also 28 or 30-day treatment options for alcohol addiction.12

You can specifically search for treatment facilities that offer the 12-step approach as part of their treatment modalities. You will be able to learn more about a particular facility’s programs as policies once you contact them. The staff will present you with the most affordable payment options and explain how much of the costs your insurance would cover. Your insurance carrier can also provide you with details relating to your policy and addiction treatment coverage.13

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