For many newcomers to sobriety, the steps look like a tall order. I remember, at a very young age, reading the steps where I went to church. Too young to understand their purpose, I remember thinking whoever practiced those steps must be pretty extreme. Even as an upcoming alcoholic and drug addict in grade school, I knew the steps sounded a little…well… cultish.

Even the Big Book addresses the neurotic newcomer exclaiming, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Truth be told, the steps are extreme. Unfortunately addiction is, by its very nature, exceptionally extreme. And alcohol addiction is no exception. To arrest an extreme illness, a treatment that employs drastic measures must be taken.

A lot of sober newcomers bounce out of the program after the 3rd step. The ones that do make it through the 4th step hit snags on the 5th step because it demands rigorous honesty. That’s rigorous, not partial honesty or mostly honest… rigorous honesty!

Fifth Step – Incredible Benefits

In his book The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, Bill Wilson explains the benefits of thoroughly completing a 5th step. The fifth step of the 12 step recovery program states that we, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This vital exercise begins to provide emotional, mental and spiritual relief. By sharing wrong with a trusted confidant, guilt and shame start to melt away. Newcomers begin to realize their troubled past isn’t as unique as once thought.Both painful and rewarding, the 5th step is essential to the fundamental change of personality required to overcome alcohol and drug addiction. In its simplest form, the fifth step is simply a confession of personal wrong-doings. Confession is a long standing practice in the Judeo/Christian tradition, and alcoholics usually store a vast collection of closet skeletons. By sharing the depths of their conscience with another person, alcoholics allow fresh air to enter their soul’s closely-guarded closet of shameful skeletons.

Repentence, similar to confession (and equally painful), is also espoused in the Buddhist verse found in Practices and Vows of Samantabadra Bodhisattva (chapter 40):

“For all the evil deeds I have done in the past,
  Created by my body, speech and mind,
  From beginningless greed, hatred and delusion,
  I now know shame and repent them all.”

The original architects of the 12 steps wove the powerful, spiritual tradition of confession for a reason. It is effective. It is healing. It is one of the most valuable tools to alleviate past burdens. As Bill Wilson notes:

“If we have swept the search light of Step Four back and forth over our careers, and it has revealed in stark relief those experiences we’d rather not remember, if we have come to know how wrong thinking and action have hurt us and others, then the need to quit living by ourselves with those tormenting ghosts of yesterday gets more urgent than ever. We have to talk to somebody about them.” (12×12, pg.55).

This is precisely what the 5th Step of the 12 step process requires of those who genuinely desire sobriety – a candid discussion in light of a 4th step inventory. Although the word “required” repels many an alcoholics or drug addicts, Bill Wilson further warns that “without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being we could not stay sober.” (12×12, pgs. 56&57). Obviously, staying sober is a prerequisite for meaningful, fulfilling recovery.

The Fifth Step is More Than Just Relief

But personal admission of one’s checkered past offers more than mere relief. The Big Book states that the fifth step, if conducted fearlessly and thoroughly, produces unhealthy patterns of behavior. Destructive behaviors reflect underlying character defects, the engine that drives off-the-wall actions. Before freshly sober members can begin to address these core issues, they must undertake an identification process to understand their precise nature.

Of course, personal admission of a rag-tag past is sobering in and of itself. As Wilson points out, however, meaningful insights offer the potential to initiate a purging of core issues that drive alcoholics to drink. Incredible emotional and mental relief, coupled with profound personal insight, makes the fifth step a valuable exercise for anyone. Successful completion marks a return to sanity, or a clear recognition of who and what we are.

For most with a truly self-addicted mind, the 12 step recovery process provides an invaluable method to rid oneself of self pity, emotional entanglements, delusions of grandeur and ‘playing the victim.’ Step five initiates the change. But remember, there are seven to go!

OR

Testimonials

  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
    Alumni
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
    Alumni
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
    Alumni
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
    Alumni
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
    Alumni
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham
    Alumni

    Thinking About Rehab?

    Learn More About Our Alternative Residential Recovery Programs

    Alternative Drug & Alcohol Treatment Rehab
    Talk to someone about your options

    Talk to someone about your options