Get help today 888-685-5770 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organization that provides those struggling with alcohol addiction with support and a blueprint for achieving and maintaining sobriety. Their chief methodology is the 12 Steps, which lays out clear and concise processes for acknowledging one’s struggles with alcohol addiction and working toward peace with oneself and others.

What Is the 5th Step in AA?

Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as the “Confession” step, encourages members to acknowledge their struggles and whatever harm they caused to themselves and others in pursuit of alcohol.

Step 5 of AA reads that one, “admitted to God, to oneself, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Put simply, Step 5 is the point in the process in which one will speak openly and honestly about their struggles with addiction, with focus on how they harmed themselves and others through their actions and behaviors. This confession should be honest, and can begin in a written form and evolve into conversations.

step 5

AA Step 5 Explained

Completing Step 5 of Alcoholics Anonymous can look different for everyone. It may include tasks such as overcoming fear, confessing to yourself, calling upon inspiration, and/or confessing to another person.

Overcoming Fear in Step 5 of AA

Fear is a natural reaction to confession. Although one may want recovery, confronting the nature of one’s wrongs and admitting long-held secrets can be terrifying. If you allow these feelings to stop your progress at Step 5, you stop moving forward in your recovery and the disease of alcohol addiction will take over once more.

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 4 has prepared you for Step 5, and by finding the courage to overcome that fear of rejection or the shame of your confession, you experience honesty on a deeper level than in your first step of admission, and you break the pattern of denial that often plagues those suffering with alcohol use disorder.

Confessing to Yourself

Step 5 requires not only that one admit to themselves the exact nature of one’s wrongs, but that they embark on an honest self-evaluation of their faults. This part of the step helps to remove egoism and minimize your fear. This enables one to work on the remaining confessions to God/higher power and another human being with honesty, openness, and courage.

Calling Upon Inspiration

As discussed in previous steps, the concept of a God need not be religious. While many may take solace in confessing one’s past wrongs to a deity, they can also take a broader, spiritual approach, admitting that one struggles with alcohol to a non-sectarian spiritual force. One can also interpret “God” as a broader inspiration that drives one toward recovery, and acknowledge that in order to call upon this inspiration they must be open and honest with the behaviors that have harmed themselves or others.

Confession to Another Individual

One can struggle to break the cycle of addiction without help. Part of recovering from alcohol addiction is building your self-esteem so that you realize what you have to share is worth listening to, and that you are worthy of forgiveness and respect. The person you select to share your fifth step confession with should be someone who understands the process of recovery and someone who wants to help you get through it.

For this reason many choose to complete step five with a sponsor, or someone from within your AA group who will understand the process of recovery and who will be compassionate and respectful of your desire not to share your confidences with anyone else. A sponsor will also help you maintain perspective as to the exact nature of the wrongs you are confessing and will not allow you to slip into denial by blaming others for what you’ve shared.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Help for alcohol addiction is easy to find, but it is not always easy to ask for. Overcoming an addiction to or a dependency on alcohol can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, but if you’ve made the decision to stop drinking you’ve crossed the most important hurdle in your recovery.

If you’re ready to get help with alcohol addiction, visit the AA website to find a support group near you. There are also alternatives to AA that may help you achieve or maintain recovery.

If you or a loved one need detox support or addiction treatment, you may benefit from attending treatment at a dedicated rehab facility. American Addiction Centers (AAC) operates treatment facilities nationwide, with admissions navigators standing by 24/7 to help you get admitted into treatment. To speak with an admissions navigator, call .

Support is just one step away. Complete the form below to see if your health insurance provider can help alleviate the financial burden of rehab and associated therapies for alcohol addiction.

Next: Step 6
Last: Step 4

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.