What Is Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholic Anonymous step five is often called "Confession." In this step we "admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrong." This step follows a written inventory of our wrongs and it is critical to share this as soon as possible.
AA's twelve step program is built on a foundation of spiritual principals, including surrender, willingness, courage, trust and honesty. Step five strengthens this foundation and reaffirms your commitment to recovery.
Fear is a natural reaction to confession. Although you may want recovery desperately, confronting the nature of your wrongs and admitting long-held secrets to God and to another human being may be terrifying. If you allow these feelings to stop your progress at step five, you stop moving forward in your recovery and the disease of alcohol addiction will take over once more. Alcoholics Anonymous Step Four has prepared you for step five, and by finding the courage to overcome that fear of rejection or the shame of your confession, you experience honesty on a deeper level than in your first step of admission, and you break the pattern of denial that often plagues those suffering with alcoholism.
Confessing to Yourself
Step 5 requires not only that we admit to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs, but that we embark on an honest self-evaluation of our faults. This part of the fifth step helps to remove your egoism and helps to minimize your fear. This enables you to work on your remaining confessions to God and another human being with honesty, openness and courage.
In the third step of AA's recovery process, you ask a power greater than yourself for honesty, courage and willingness to work on each step of your recovery. The admission of your exact wrongs in the fifth step is part of the spiritual awakening that is the basis of AA's Twelve Steps. Your willingness to approach God or your Higher Power honestly is critical to your recovery. Because many alcoholics may feel unworthy of a relationship with God, this revelation to Him enables them to draw closer to God and to experience the love and acceptance that He offers. Building a positive relationship with your Higher Power also carries into your relationships with others and this is essential to recovery.
Confession to Another Human Being
An alcoholic is rarely able to break the cycle of addiction without help. Part of recovering from alcohol addiction is building your self-esteem so that you realize what you have to share is worth listening to, and that you are worthy of forgiveness and respect. The person you select to share your fifth step confession with should be someone who understands the process of recovery and someone who wants to help you get through it. For this reason many choose to complete step five with a sponsor, or someone from within your AA group who will understand the process of recover and who will be compassionate and respectful of your desire not to share your confidences with anyone else. A sponsor will also help you maintain perspective as to the exact nature of the wrongs you are confessing and will not allow you to slip into denial by blaming others for what you've shared.