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Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 5 AA – 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a 12-step program designed to help people who are struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD).1 The program is based on the belief that AUD is a disease that can be overcome with the right support.2

A.A. members meet regularly to share their experiences and to provide support for one another. They also follow a set of guidelines known as the 12 steps. These steps involve admitting that you have a problem, accepting responsibility for your actions, and making a commitment to change your behavior.1

The first step is admitting that you have a problem and that you are powerless to change on your own. The second step is recognizing that a power greater than yourself can help you change your life for the better. The third step is making the decision to turn your life over to this power. The fourth step is taking inventory of your life and identifying the ways in which you have caused harm.3

Once the first four steps are completed, it’s time to move on to step 5. This step includes sharing your regrets, mistakes and characteristics that you feel are wrong with another person and your Higher Power.3 If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, A.A. may be able to help.

What Is Step 5 in A.A.

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous‘ 12-step program asks participants to “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This step is about acknowledging past wrongdoings and taking responsibility for them.4

The act of confession can help to ease the burden of guilt and shame that many individuals feel, and it can also help to build a foundation of trust between members and their sponsors. In order to work through this step, members should be willing to be honest with themselves and with others.4

AA Step 5 Prayer 

The 5th Step Prayer of A.A. is a powerful tool for those in recovery. It helps to promote healing by encouraging the person to admit their wrongs out loud to another person. It also helps to promote humility by asking for help from a Higher Power. This may help foster a sense of hope and peace by reaffirming their commitment to sobriety. This prayer is as follows:3

Higher Power,

My inventory has shown me who I am,

Yet I ask for Your help

In admitting my wrongs to another person and to You.

Assure me, and be with me, in this Step,

For without this Step I cannot progress in my recovery.

With Your help, I can do this, and I do it.3

What Is the Importance of the 5th step A.A.

Step 5 in A.A. is an important one for several reasons. Not only could it benefit you emotionally and spiritually, but it could also strengthen the foundation of your recovery, enabling you to work through the other steps. While challenging, the 5th step may help you to:4

  • Free yourself from isolation and loneliness: For many people struggling with addiction, the shame and stigma they feel can lead to isolation and loneliness. By sharing their story with another person, they can begin to break down those barriers and feel connected to others again. 4
  • Forgive yourself and others: For many people in A.A., forgiving others is a vital part of their recovery. But it is also important to forgive oneself. This can be a difficult task, but it’s important for moving forward in recovery. 4 
  • Recognize your deficiency and see your potential: Through humility, you may be able to recognize what you need to change and see yourself as another future version of yourself without those deficiencies.“To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be” 4
  • Make way for honesty and relief: It may feel freeing to talk honestly with another person about everything you’ve been bottling up. “Until we actually sit down and talk aloud about what we have so long hidden, our willingness to clean house is still largely theoretical. When we are honest with another person, it confirms that we have been honest with ourselves and with God.”4

The participants may gain a greater sense of control over their lives and begin to build bridges with the people they have hurt. In addition, this step helps to strengthen the other eleven steps by providing a foundation of honesty and accountability. 4

Step 5 can be challenging for A.A. participants because we may be scared that we will be judged. We need to remember that we are admitting our wrongs to our Higher Power, who already knows them, and to another human being who is also on the journey of recovery. It’s important to remember that we are not alone in this process and that there is always someone there to help us through it. 4

How To Complete AA Step 5?

You may be wondering what working through this step actually looks like and what each part of the step means for you. Here’s what you can expect.

  • Admit our wrongs to our Higher Power: This means coming to terms with the fact that we have made mistakes and wronged ourselves and others. Asking for forgiveness and guidance from our Higher Power can be one way to do this. 4
  • Admit our wrongs to ourselves: This means being honest about our shortcomings and taking responsibility for our actions. We’re free to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and accept that we are not perfect. 4
  • Admit our wrongs to another human being: This means finding someone we trust who can help us process our feelings and work through our mistakes. It can help to be open and honest with this person about our wrongs and listen to their advice.4

What Are the Tips for Completing A.A. Step 5?

Acknowledging our wrongdoings can seem difficult and uncomfortable. However, there are some things you can do to make the process easier, the most important of which is to find the right person to confide in.4

This could be your sponsor or perhaps a therapist. It’s important to pick someone who will be fully supportive and non-judgmental. Your sponsor is the person that has been through what you’re going through and can listen to your deepest, most sensitive regrets without any judgment.4

Here’s how this is approached in A.A.: “We shall want to speak with someone who is experienced, who not only has stayed dry but has been able to surmount other serious difficulties. Difficulties, perhaps, like our own. This person may turn out to be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so.”4

Finally, remember that admitting your mistakes is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes great courage to face up to our flaws and it may not be easy, but it’s an essential part of recovery that may bring you relief and free you from guilt.4

AA Step 5 Worksheet Questions 

You may find it helpful to work through the important questions that you can ask yourself while working through step 5. You can discuss the questions with your sponsor, your therapist, or yourself. There’s no right or wrong answer to the questions, they just serve as a way to possibly bring you greater insight into your AUD and help with the recovery process.3,4

  • Have you lost or damaged any important relationships as a result of your addiction? Does that make it difficult to discuss your AUD with others?
  • Some people in your life have chosen a “tough love” approach with you during your addiction and recovery. Other people have chosen a softer, kinder approach. Which approach has helped you more?
  • What have you learned from your sponsor during your time together? Is there anything you’d change about them?
  • Are you scared of going through your fifth step with another person? What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  • How do you feel about sharing your fifth step with your Higher Power? Do you feel like you’re getting some kind of response from your Higher Power to the effort you’re putting in?
  • When you’re done sharing, write down what this experience felt like for you. Was it less scary than you imagined, or more? Do you feel relieved after doing this?
  • Do you now feel like you’d be able to share with other people, too, or would you like to keep things the same?

How to Interpret Step 5 A.A.: What Should I Do Next? 

This is a very important step that can provide a lot of relief and personal insight to those who complete it successfully. It marks a return to sanity or a clear recognition of who and what we are. 4

Once we know who we are and what we can change, we’re free to make “a sincere attempt to become what we can be”. This is what step 6 is all about – beginning the process of improving ourselves and becoming who we want to be. This is a lifelong process and is won’t happen overnight, but the point is to become ready to dive into the process of self-improvement.5

How Can I Get Help from Step 5 of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous)? 

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a trusted network of addiction rehabilitation centers for individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders (SUDs) and any co-occurring conditions that sometimes go along with these disorders.

If you or someone you love are struggling with AUD or another substance abuse disorder, you can reach out to our 24-hour helpline and talk to an experienced navigator who can help you. The navigator can provide information you may need about your insurance plan and options, explain the specifics of insurance for addiction recovery and help you find alternative payment options if you need them.

AAC can help struggling individuals by offering a variety of programs specific to their needs. This includes inpatient programs for AUD treatment, shorter medically monitored detox programs and month-long inpatient treatments, among other options. There are a number of different ways to pay for the treatment, with multiple payment plan options.