Why Admitting Your Wrongs to Another Person is Important in AA

Going to AA meetings is often beneficial, even if you aren’t actively working the steps. For some people, it takes a little bit longer to open up and find a sponsor, but once you’ve been going to meetings for a little while and start to feel more comfortable, it’s a good idea to seek out a sponsor and begin working the steps. Some of the most challenging steps to work on are Step 4 and Step 5, but when you find the right person to work with, it can make all the difference. To understand the importance of admitting your wrongs to another person, it’s essential to understand what Step 4 and Step 5 are asking you to do.

Call 800-839-1686 Toll Free. Privacy Guaranteed. No Commitment.

Help is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who Answers?

Step 4

If you’re new to AA, you’ve probably heard people talk about the steps, but you may not know how they work. You might also be a little bit nervous about some of them. Step 4 asks that we have “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” This step often causes people a lot of anxiety, as it requires you to create a brutally honest list of ways you have wronged other people and yourself. The goal of this is to see what has caused you unhappiness and pushed you to continue misusing alcohol and work toward correcting those issues. The Big Book clarifies that it will be incredibly difficult to stay content and sober without taking this unflinching and moral inventory. If you’ve been misusing alcohol as a way to escape reality, which then causes you to do things you never would’ve done sober, leading you to drink even more, working Steps 4 and 5 can help you put an end to this cycle.

Step 5

Connection is a crucial part of recovery and successfully cutting back your alcohol consumption.

If you think Step 4 is difficult, you might find yourself even more nervous about Step 5. Step 5 asks that we have “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 is very difficult—but essential. Admitting your moral failings to another human can be scary, but ultimately, it will put you on the path to recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches all of its members that you simply cannot do this alone. You can’t hold all of your problems alone, and admitting your wrongs and moral failings with someone else can help create connection. Connection is a crucial part of recovery and successfully cutting back your alcohol consumption. Step 5 is putting action behind what you’ve discovered through Step 4.

Admitting Your Wrongs to Yourself, God, and Another Person

You might be wondering why you have to admit any of what you discovered in Step 4 to God or another person. After all, isn’t it enough that you’ve done the work to discover important things about yourself? Well, it’s a start, but you have more work to be done. It can be difficult to see things clearly, especially your own wrongs or failings when you don’t share them with someone else. You can take inventory of yourself all day, but until you share that with someone else, you are stuck with your own rationalizations and justifications, which often leads you back to misusing alcohol.

The goal of these steps certainly isn’t to make you feel bad about yourself or make you feel like you don’t deserve a better life. You absolutely deserve a life full of peace and happiness, and that’s what you can achieve through AA and working the steps. There’s no question that it’s scary, but when you find the right person to share with, who is truly working the program and understands where you’ve been, you will form a crucial connection to your recovery.

Call 800-839-1686 Toll Free. Privacy Guaranteed. No Commitment.

Help is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who Answers?

God Can Be Anything

If you find yourself struggling with AA and the 12 Steps because you don’t believe in God, or aren’t sure if you believe in God, you aren’t alone. Many people enter AA and have trouble reconciling all the talk of God with the fact that they aren’t really sure what they believe but want to commit to AA. The good news is that God can be anything. The best thing you can do if you’re struggling with this is to take all of the good things from AA and leave the things that you don’t really like or aren’t ready to face.

The best thing you can do if you’re struggling with the God aspect of AA is to take all of the good things from AA and leave the things that you don’t really like or aren’t ready to face.

Many people don’t even describe AA or the discussion of God as religious. For many, it’s simply spiritual. It’s something outside of themselves that can help. Chances are, you’ve tried on your own to reduce your alcohol intake and haven’t been able to successfully do that. So why not try something else? Try giving your power over to something outside of yourself, even if you don’t believe in God. There’s no doubt that you can recover if you take the necessary steps, even if you don’t believe in God in the traditional sense.

Lessen Shame and Fear by Admitting Your Wrongs

Many people enter AA with a lot of secrets, shame, and fear—fear of people finding out what they’ve done in the past, fear of moving forward in a life without alcohol, and fear of just surviving in this new world they’re trying to create for themselves. Often, the shame that many people feel as they’re actively working on consuming less alcohol makes it more difficult. Many people struggling with substance misuse do things they would never do sober: lie, steal, cheat, and other things typically not in line with who they are or want to be.

This can cause a person to feel a lot of shame, which can result in getting stuck in a cycle of alcohol misuse. A person feels shame, and one of the easiest ways they know how to combat that shame is to drink alcohol. In continuing to drink alcohol, the undesired behaviors may also continue, and this just adds to the shame. It’s a vicious—though understandable—cycle that is difficult to break free from.

Working through Steps 4 and 5 can help lessen this shame. Sharing your struggles and admitting your wrongs to another person can help you put everything into perspective and you can begin to forgive yourself. Research shows that self-forgiveness protocols reduced feelings of guilt and shame surrounding alcohol use. Additionally, self-forgiveness protocols help promote and maintain decreased alcohol misuse and abstinence. For many people, sharing your Step 4 work with another person can act as a self-forgiveness tool and often results in the same benefits: less shame and increased abstinence.

Social Isolation Increases the Risk of Relapse

Working through Steps 4 and 5 helps you break free from loneliness and isolation. It allows you to connect with not just another person, but with someone who truly understands what you’re going through.

Studies show that social isolation increases the risk of relapse. Substance use disorders are inherently socially isolating. If you’re drinking too much and it becomes a problem, you may likely start hiding how much you’re drinking. You might drink before you go out and then only have a couple of drinks when you’re out with friends or family, so they don’t know exactly how much you’re consuming. Maybe you drink before work but haven’t told anyone yet. Eventually, the secrets become too much to bear, so many people start to isolate themselves.

It’s difficult to keep up with the lies and the secrets, and you’re unable to drink as much as you want when you’re with other people, so isolation takes over. When you’re isolated, it’s far easier to justify to yourself why you can continue drinking and why it’s not a big deal. When you start opening up and sharing these thoughts with someone else, you form a connection that is a crucial part of getting sober and maintaining long-term recovery. Social support, along with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, has been shown to enhance sobriety. Part of the support you get from Alcoholics Anonymous can include working Steps 4 and 5 and sharing this with someone who genuinely knows what you’re going through.

Admitting Your Wrongs to Someone Outside of AA

While many people think it’s most helpful to share what they learn in Step 5 with someone from Alcoholics Anonymous—generally a sponsor—this isn’t a requirement. If you’re not yet comfortable with your sponsor or you think personal or legal issues may come up that you don’t want to share with someone else, that’s completely okay. In this case, it can be helpful to speak with a therapist, and perhaps share Step 5 with them. This way, you’re still sharing with someone, and you’re able to get feedback about your behaviors and the inventory you took of yourself. This will help you face your fears, problems, and worries about sobriety, and hopefully, help you achieve your goals of long-term abstinence.


Keep in mind that you can go through the steps multiple times or share Step 5 with multiple people that you trust and feel comfortable with. It can be done on your own terms.

It doesn’t necessarily matter who you share Step 5 with by admitting your wrongs. Keep in mind that you can go through the steps multiple times or share Step 5 with multiple people that you trust and feel comfortable with. It can be done on your own terms. Whether you’re sober or just curious about Alcoholics Anonymous and are interested in a way to reduce your alcohol consumption, AA meetings and the 12 Steps are a great place to start. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Go to meetings, continue sharing and connecting with people, and work through the steps when you’re truly ready to take a good look at yourself. People in AA truly are willing to help you—it’s part of the program.

Get Help Today

Research shows that those who help other alcoholics were less likely to relapse and more likely to maintain long-term sobriety, so never feel like you’re bothering someone in AA when you need them. Help is always available in other forms as well. Call 800-839-1686Who Answers? to speak with a treatment specialist who can help connect you with the treatment you need and deserve.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on AlcoholicsAnonymous.com.

All calls are private and confidential.

LOOKING FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP? FIND A REHAB NOW!LOOKING FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP? FIND A REHAB NOW!800-839-1686
Who Answers?