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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on February 2, 2023
4 min read

Step 5 AA

What is Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

“Admitted to God (higher power), to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

In the 4th step, you admit the nature of your wrongs through a moral inventory. In the 5th step, you confess them to yourself, your higher power, and another person. For many, this other person is their AA sponsor or another AA participant. 

This person becomes an important part of the healing process and helps you become aware of self-delusion and destructive behavior. They help you be honest with yourself and stop believing whatever lies you’ve told yourself as an addict. 

Admitting our defects is challenging but freeing and provides peace of mind. The confession of personal wrongdoings can be painful for many, but it offers mental and emotional relief.


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How Does Step 5 Work?

Step 5 requires honesty and vulnerability. You'll be admitting and understanding the nature of your mistakes. During this step, you'll speak to another person or a sponsor to share your:

  • Feelings
  • Experiences
  • Secrets
  • Character defects
  • Harmful behaviors

This step is the beginning of an in-depth examination of how your defects played a role in why you developed alcohol use disorder (AUD). Most people who complete this step are grateful that they don't have to carry their burdens alone anymore.

By sharing your defects with someone who understands and empathizes with your alcoholism, you can be ready for the next steps of AA. Once you completely understand how your actions affect your alcoholism, you can begin asking higher powers to remove those behaviors.

Why Should You Do The 5th Step?

Many find the 5th step one of the most difficult of the 12 steps. They experience discomfort, embarrassment, shame, and other negative emotions while admitting their worst secrets to someone else. 

However, the relief that comes from sharing this information makes this step valuable. After this step, you can begin to return to sanity and have a clearer understanding of who you are.

According to AA, this step is important because it reveals beliefs and memories that only survive in the dark. Sharing them shines a light on them and banishes them from your mind and memory.

Many people with AUD feel like they are living double lives or acting as a character. They are acting out a story that is not completely true. Once they’ve revealed their defects to someone else, they no longer need to live this double life. This step allows fears to drop away, encouraging peace.


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Questions to Ask Yourself While Following Step 5 of AA

There are several questions that you can ask yourself and answer that will help you work through step 5, including:

  • How long have I kept my secrets and my defects to myself?
  • How do I feel about admitting them to someone else?
  • Am I ready to tell someone my secrets and let go of them so I can move further through recovery?
  • Do I have any reservations about this step?
  • Am I able to acknowledge and accept the exact nature of my defects?
  • Do I believe this step will improve my life? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Have I scheduled a time and place for my 5th step? Where and when?
  • Has my relationship with my higher power changed because of this step?
  • Has my view of myself changed after this step?
  • Have I forgotten or omitted anything?
  • Is there anything I continue to cling to that doesn’t work, and am I willing to ask for help to let it go?

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Tips for How to Complete This Step 

  • Choose the person with whom you will share your defects. For most, this is their AA sponsor. If you don’t have a sponsor, choose someone you are comfortable sharing with.
  • Choose a time and place to share your defects that offers privacy and where you won’t be distracted.
  • Bring the personal inventory you compiled in step four.
  • Remind yourself that AA offers a safe, supportive environment. Other participants have struggled just like you, and they aren’t there to judge you.
  • Put aside your fear of sharing as best as you can. This is a challenging step – it’s supposed to be – but it’s worth the effort.

How Will I Feel After Completing The Fifth Step?

AA participants call this step “painful but rewarding.” It offers emotional and mental relief. It also allows you to gain profound personal insight. 

After this step, you no longer need to run your life according to self-will. Most people are pleasantly surprised to experience less pain and feel serene about their situation. For many people, this is the first time they’ve felt okay with who they are in the present. They can accept themselves as they are, while committing to future improvement. 

AA participants also say that it’s after this step that their relationships begin to change. This includes relationships with other people and a higher power.

Updated on February 2, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on February 2, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “Why Is Spirituality an Essential Part of a Recovery Program?” Psychology Today,

  2. “What Makes AA Work?” Harvard Gazette, 12 Sept. 2011,

  3. Schneider, Kathleen M., et al. “Evaluating Multiple Outcomes and Gender Differences in Alcoholism Treatment.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 20, no. 1, Jan. 1995, pp. 1–21, 10.1016/0306-460300037-y.

  4. Stone, David A., et al. “Therapeutic Factors and Psychological Concepts in Alcoholics Anonymous.” Journal of Counselor Practice, 1 Jan. 2011, 10.22229/nav074629.

  5. Suire, Jared G., and Robert K. Bothwell. “The Psychosocial Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous.” American Journal on Addictions, vol. 15, no. 3, Jan. 2006, pp. 252–255, 10.1080/10550490600626622.

  6. “Alcoholics Anonymous: Is A.A. For You?”

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