Step 5 of AA

Step 5 of AA

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-step program designed to offer support and community for individuals in recovery from drugs or alcohol. Step 5 of the process serves to help people admit exactly what shortcomings existed that led to addiction but also to seek and offer forgiveness. Learn more about this step and why it is so important in recovery.


Step 5

One of the greatest challenges in addiction recovery is admitting wrongdoing. Step 5 states a person must ‘admit to God, oneself and other human beings the exact nature of the wrongs.’A person can become isolated and lonely when faced with character deficits. With Step 5, it is possible to learn acceptance of one’s own shortcomings and seek to forgive oneself and others to move past the hurt to hope and healing.

Getting Started

Confiding in other people can be very helpful at this step, particularly with a sponsor or others in AA. The person should be well trusted to confide in as the memories and events of a person’s life can be traumatic and difficult to share. Explore some of the steps listed below to help get started on Step 5:

  • Reveal distressing memories to another person (such as a sponsor)
  • Be completely honest with the person and really assess one’s own inner world and future goals
  • Experience complete vulnerability without holding back
  • Accept advice from the trusted individual with an open mind


To get moving in the right direction takes some time but it is possible to move through Step 5. Personal judgment can lead to feeling overwhelmed by guilt and worry. Some of the following tips may help:

  • Let go of reservations and judgment
  • Remember AA is designed as a safe, supportive environment where everyone has stories
  • Choose a person to share stories with whom is trustworthy
  • Choose someone with whom you are comfortable sharing the journey


Keep some of the following in mind while working through Step 5. It is not necessary to share personal defects with another person. A higher power knows all that has happened. It can be fairly traumatic to reveal and express upsetting memories to another person for advice or feedback. Doing so releases a person of a weight that is carried by burdens of the past so it may be helpful to let go with a safe person when ready. Doing so will allow a person to move towards Step 6 with peace and humility.

After completion of Step 5 participants in recovery move on to Step 6 of AA:  preparing oneself for getting rid of character flaws.

The recovery journey is very personal for each individual. The Villa recognizes the need to tailor treatment to each specific person’s unique needs and goals. Call us to find out how to get started.