Step Five of AA: Integrity

Step Five of AA: Integrity

Society sees the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Bible for anyone looking to recover from an addiction.  The program has an estimated success rate of between 8% and 12% according to addiction specialists, and AA has approximately 2 million members worldwide.  Nonetheless, regardless of your thoughts on the program there are valuable lessons we can learn from their text. Above all, each step offers a different gift to an addict. In this series we take a subjective look explaining the benefit each step brings.

The Gift of Trust/Integrity

Step Five:  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.  Like Step Four, Step Five is a call to action. It’s the next step in learning to be able to call ourselves on our bullshit.  It goes even further than Step Four because we don’t just write down all of our issues, we own up to them in a conversation with another human being.

Here we aim to cleanse our spirit, it’s basically a confession.  More than anything this step provides a release. We see how we’ve fragmented our spirit to fit our surroundings and begin to see an image of who we truly are.   In this Step we learn to recognize our true self, we begin to see who we are. It’s in this step we return to sanity because we start having an idea of our whole self.  One of the greatest byproducts of this is it marks possibly the first time we’ve been comfortable in our own skin, just being ourselves.

What this Teaches

Step Five really teaches us two things.  First it teaches integrity. Integrity is the practice of honesty as well as the display of a consistent and uncompromised commitment to strong morals. Second it teaches trust.  Addicts usually don’t trust anybody, including themselves, so this is a very important lesson. Out of all the gifts 12 Step teaches this might be the hardest for me.  I consider myself to have integrity but there isn’t a specific instance that comes to mind where I’ve relied on putting my trust into another person. I always found it uncomfortable opening up to other people, ironic given I now put my life on the internet.  

We can’t grow until we understand the exact nature of our wrongs, the essence of our mistakes.  Without this understanding we’re doomed to repeat the past, the cycle of addiction. Sitting down and confessing your transgressions is weird and uncomfortable but it feels great after it’s done.  

Why This is Important

One of the cool features of 12 Step is that the steps build off each other.  It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by guilt and tormented by past transgressions after an addict takes a moral inventory.  It can be some heavy stuff and we need to get it off our chest. That’s what we do in Step five by admitting to another person the nature of our wrongs it provides a release for us to no longer hold onto them.  

Step Five is important because we bury certain events or thoughts in active addiction. These negativities fester if they aren’t addressed.  When we use our lives become fragmented, or compartmentalized, we act out certain roles depending on who we’re around. By shining a light on the darkest facets of our life we are able to live as one complete person.  Step Five puts an end to the need to live double lives.

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