The 12 Step Program: Step 5

You’re nearing the halfway point of the 12-Step Recovery Program. Every step you successfully pass is an achievement and should not be taken lightly. As you move onto Step 5, the focus turns to admitting your wrongdoings to yourself and others in detail. This step reads as, “admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Not only are we admitting we did wrong and lost control of our lives to addiction, but now we must face the music. Sharing the details of our shortcomings and negative life experiences with others helps us flourish in our newly established sober lives. 


What does Step 5 accomplish?


This step is rooted in personal accountability. Throughout Step 5, you share your past experiences with others and admit your transgressions. This step is about being open and honest about all you’ve lived through and experienced, especially the low points of your addiction struggle. 


Why share the details of my negative actions with others?


Although a large portion of this step is about self-reflection and self-evaluation of our personal faults, pulling in other people is key to break the cycle of your addiction. More often than not, we cannot overcome a life-altering transformation fully on our own. Inviting others to participate in our recovery journey is fundamental to our long-term success. Along with inclusion, we learn to push past negative emotions such as fear, embarrassment, shame, sadness and sometimes, even, anger, when sharing our stories with others. 


You are creating a sounding board of people who will listen to your story in its entirety and support you throughout your journey. Speaking out about what we’ve faced sheds light on our entire addiction struggle, allowing us to push past what we’ve experienced to create a life that is based on positive emotions and experiences moving forward. 


What is the goal of Step 5?


The goal of Step 5 is to break down the walls your addiction has built up around your experiences and emotions. Sharing your faults with others opens you up to a new chapter in your life where you no longer live with guilt, shame or negativity. Personal growth and accountability will also grow during this step. Consider choosing a sponsor during this step to listen and guide you through the remainder of your recovery journey and throughout sobriety.  


If you had to describe Step 5 in one word what would it be?


Affirmation. During this step you are delving deeper into the negative experiences you faced during your addiction. You may have held onto these moments by yourself for months or, even, years. Now, during Step 5, you are affirming them to be real and true not only to yourself, but to others before you. You are sharing details of your past that may bring up negative emotions, but you acknowledge that you are strong enough now to push through them and admit your faults entirely.