Having completed Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous by making a moral inventory, Step 5 asks that we admit our wrongs to others and own our mistakes.

What is the 5th Step of AA?

Alcoholic Anonymous step five reads as follows “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrong.” This step is often referred to as the “confession” step as it requires admittance of the wrongs caused by a person's alcohol abuse, both to themselves and to others.

Step 5 builds on the spiritual principles of the 12 Step program, solidifying core elements such as courage, surrender, honesty, and trust as well as the commitment needed for recovery.

Confession to God

In Steps 2 & 3 of AA, the participant is asked to accept that there is a higher power to whom they release the control of their addiction. For some, this may be their interpretation of God or another religious diety, for others, it will be a representation of a person or thing they see as having spiritual power. 

Admitting your wrongs to this power, through prayer, meditation, or simply saying them out loud, builds the bond you have with it and strengthens your resolve in it for subsequent steps.

Confession to the self

Confession to the self is a direct continuation of the moral inventory built in Step 4. By accepting our wrongs we can release the egotism and fear that surrounds our addiction, helping us to become more honest and open about our misdoings to our higher power and other people.

Confession to another person

Breaking the cycle of alcohol addiction is a challenge that is rarely achieved without help. As step 5 is about building self-esteem and realization through admitting what wrongs you have committed through alcohol abuse, many find it hard to choose a person to confess their wrongs to. 

This is why many people use a sponsor for step 5, someone who is either in the program or is a recovering alcoholic, as they are the ones who can truly appreciate another addict's journey without judgment or preconceived notions. They can also help maintain perspective on the nature of the wrongs being confessed as well as keeping blame away from others.

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Get help during Covid-19

At Recovered, we recognize the impact COVID-19 has had and the continued challenges it poses to getting advice and treatment for substance use disorders. SAMHSA has a wealth of information and resources to assist providers, individuals, communities, and states during this difficult time and is ready to help in any way possible.

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Fear of confession

Admitting wrongs and confronting how alcohol addiction has affected your life is often very difficult for people facing the 5th step of AA. People struggling with alcohol abuse tend to keep their addiction to themselves and will often make excuses for it and how it makes them behave. Confronting these excuses and admitting that they are false to other people can feel intimidating. 

This is why step 4 has you construct a moral inventory so that you will have already confronted yourself and will have the courage to face shame and rejection by admitting your wrongs. You will also be able to break the pattern of denial and be more willing and prepared to face the subsequent steps.

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