What is the Fifth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous?

In the fifth step of Alcoholics Anonymous you begin to own up to the behaviors you exhibited while drinking. You begin to clean up the mess you made of your life with alcohol. It states “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”. In the first step we admitted we have a problem with alcohol. In the second step we begin to believe that our higher power will help us to get sober. In the third step we agreed to turn our will and life over to our higher power and in the fourth step we listed our strengths and weaknesses. It is imperative that the first four steps were done to the best of your ability and that you were completely honest with yourselves. The fifth step will be a waste of time if you haven’t.

Perhaps it is easy to see why we have to be honest with ourselves and God. The hard part is bringing someone else into the mix. The person you admit the exact nature of your wrongs to should be someone you trust and who will be honest with you. Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that as you begin your journey with AA, that you get a sponsor. A sponsor is someone you can talk to about the things that bother you. Usually men are with men and women with women. The first few meetings you go to, begin watching for someone you can respond to. See how that person acts and what they say during the meetings. Pick someone who you believe to have quality sobriety. The reason for needing to admit your wrongs to a human and not just God is because alcoholics are masters at isolation. During their drinking career many alcoholics developed secrets. The lies and manipulation that were necessary to continue drinking add to the feelings of self- hatred, and self-loathing. They begin to spend more time alone. Alcoholics Anonymous says “you are only as sick as your secrets”.

After you have found the person you trust, you will sit down with him/her and discuss your fourth step and the list that you had made on your strengths and weaknesses. You will discuss times when your behavior toward others was hurtful. Some sponsors use the seven deadly sins as an outline for different behaviors you had exhibited while drinking. The seven deadly sins are; wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. You will discuss times when you may have acted prideful or envious or times you took your wrath out on someone. Together you figure out ways you can do it differently. This step is very freeing. Most people feel lighter after they have done this step. As you go about your daily life after that you can be aware of when those sins are rearing their heads and stop them in their tracks. You will fall short at times as you are human. The important thing is to keep trying.

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