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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on September 29, 2023
6 min read

Step 6 AA

What is Step 6 of AA?

Step six of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) focuses on acceptance. In this step, the person must be willing to affirm the following:

“We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

In this stage, individuals work to eliminate “character defects” like negative behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes and work on acceptance. This can help you reform your character and abandon defects that lead to self-destruction.

During the sixth step of addiction treatment, people notice positive behavior and thought pattern changes. With your higher power’s help, you release the things that no longer serve you.


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How Step 6 Works

Step six prepares individuals for significant change. It encourages individuals to address the underlying causes of their addictive behavior and how these character defects led to an alcohol problem.

You can prevent relapse and maintain sobriety by addressing your shortcomings, negative traits, and harmful behaviors.

If you stop drinking without being completely honest about your character defects, you can become “dry drunk.” Dry drunkenness leads to bitterness and resentfulness, even when an individual is sober.

Main Components of the Step 6 of AA

During step six, people establish a strong connection with their higher power. While not directly a spiritual awakening, this relationship with a higher power encourages humility and self-reflection.

AA encourages participants to remember the fundamental nature of human beings. Everyone has needs, but how you meet these needs can be defective and self-destructive.

People following the 12-step program also learn that their instincts, character traits, and defects are closely linked. They acknowledge that these character faults eventually led to substance misuse and work to undo old habits.

How to Find the Root of Addiction in Step 6

AA participants continue to explore the root of their addiction during step six. They pinpoint the underlying emotional and mental issues that led to alcoholism and their old ways.

Once identified, participants can take personal inventory of these defects, which may include the following:

  • Greed
  • Lust
  • Pride
  • Jealousy
  • Dishonesty
  • Willfulness
  • Anger
  • Self-pity

To acknowledge these shortcomings, you must:

  • Achieve humility by reflecting on times they may have hurt their loved ones
  • Be specific and deliberate about their faults
  • Accept the things that played a part in their drinking problem
  • Avoid self-condemnation and shame for past actions

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Why is the Sixth Step Important for Recovery?

Step six is necessary for recovery and sober living. Admitting your powerlessness against drug and alcohol abuse gives you the freedom to move through the rest of the addiction recovery steps.

Through the sixth step of the 12-step program, people can focus on each small victory as they work through all the remaining steps ahead. It also encourages new open-mindedness and the ability to admit fault without falling into harsh self-criticizing patterns.


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Questions to Ask Yourself While Following the Sixth Step

You can ask yourself several questions to make step 6 more manageable. These include:

  • Do you have fears about completing step six? What are they?
  • What do you think it means to have a higher power remove your defects?
  • What responsibilities do you have during this step?
  • Do you believe change is possible? Have you noticed changes since you worked through the previous steps?
  • Do any of your defects give you pleasure? Does that make it more difficult to give up?
  • Do you have any defects that you believe cannot be removed? Are you willing to have them removed?
  • What does it mean to you to surrender? How does surrendering help you complete this step?
  • What can you do to show you are ready for this step?

Activities to Complete During Step 6

There are several tasks to complete during this step, though you don’t have to complete them all. Accomplishing these activities provides a roadmap through step six.

Examples of these tasks include:

  • List each of your defects and describe each one
  • List how your behavior demonstrates this defect
  • Explain the effect your behavior has on you and the people in your life
  • Describe the life you’d have if you stopped these behaviors
  • Identify what new behavior could replace a negative one

Once you’ve completed this list, create an affirmation for each defect you’ve listed. For instance:

  • “I forgive myself for what I did when I was drinking. I am confident in my ability to do better.”
  • “I trust the recovery process. I have the courage and strength to succeed.”
  • “I deserve to be happy and sober.”

Overcoming Your Character Defects

After identifying your character defects, come up with three to five positive things you can say to yourself to deter you from engaging in previous behavior. These statements can serve as your reminder that change is possible.

For example, if you were prone to lying about your alcohol consumption, a positive statement to say would be: “I am an honest person who does not lie about drinking.”

Other helpful tips and strategies include:

  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Yoga and exercise
  • Painting and illustrating
  • Journaling and writing
  • Engaging in musical hobbies and interests
  • Walking

Common Misconceptions About Step Six

Like any of the twelve steps, step six is not immune to common misconceptions. In this section, we clear up what you might not see clearly in accomplishing step six.

Completing Step 6 Must Be Done in Your First Try

You might wrongfully assume that they must perfect step 6 in one try. As with any multi-step program, step 6 is not about perfection but working through character defects with a positive attitude. Remember that the 12-step program isn’t a strict goal but more of an encouraging set of guidelines.

You Must Remove All Your Defects Immediately

Another misconception is that a person must remove all these defects immediately. Remember, step six only requires a willingness to address one’s shortcomings—not to remedy them all at once.

You Need to Believe in God to Complete Step 6

Perhaps the most popular misconception about this step is that individuals can only succeed if they believe in God. People participating in a 12-step program can adhere to any higher power that inspires them to honor and improve life. This is why participants don’t necessarily have to be religious to eliminate their alcohol addiction.

What’s Next After the Sixth Step?

In Step 7, participants must request help from their chosen higher power to give them the strength to remove the character defects identified in Step 6. This step requires a commitment to honesty, humility, and courage.


Step 6 of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program is about accepting your character defects and surrendering to a higher power. By asking yourself key questions about the behavior that led to your drinking problems, you’ll better understand what you need to become.

Finding support for your condition isn’t just about joining meetings and sharing your experiences; it’s also about surrendering to a higher power. It doesn’t have to be a god from a specific religion, just as long as it provides you with a spiritual experience to want to change.

Updated on September 29, 2023
3 sources cited
Updated on September 29, 2023
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