Many recovering addicts and alcoholics stall on their fourth step out of a desire to avoid the fifth step. Owning up to our bad behavior and sharing about it with another addict or alcoholic is a freeing experience, allowing you to unburden yourself of the guilt and shame surrounding your past transgressions. It is important to share openly and honestly with your sponsor when completing your fifth step, as holding back any information will only cause you to retain the accompanying negative feelings and views about yourself, inhibiting your ability to recover. 

When you and your sponsor sit down to do your fifth step, you can expect to be in a location offering some privacy as this is obviously a very intimate and personal experience. If you are uncomfortable with the set location for your fifth step, do not hesitate to voice your feelings to your sponsor as there is no reason to add any complications to this process. Prior to meeting with your sponsor, you should make sure to practice your prayer and/or meditation in order to get you into a frame of mind conducive to positivity and healing. Above all else, face any fear or anxiety surrounding whatever you are most hesitant to talk about and do not avoid mentioning this unpleasantry from your past!

Once you have voiced your fourth step inventory to your sponsor and disposed of the written record in whichever method they instruct, you will hopefully feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders, as your darkest secrets are no longer yours and yours alone to bear. You should follow up your fifth step with some additional prayer and meditation, pausing to reflect on how you feel now that you have shared your innermost secrets with a fellow alcoholic. If you have knowingly left something off of your fourth and fifth step, now is the time to call your sponsor and correct this horrible mistake. As is said time and time again in the rooms of recovery “our secrets keep us sick.” Don’t sabotage your own recovery by holding back important information out of fear.

The fifth step is your opportunity to let out all those shameful secrets you’ve been holding in, freeing yourself from feelings of guilt and shame as you confide in another alcoholic. It is an almost universal experience among those working their fifth step that upon arriving at the most horrific transgression of their past, talking about the situation out loud with their sponsor they are met with compassion, understanding, and an overall mild and unimpressed response. Armed with the knowledge that your sponsor’s only interest is your success in recovery and in life, you should proceed through your fifth step without fear of judgement regardless of the severity of your bad acts in the past. So long as you are as thorough with your fifth step as you were with your fourth, those feelings of guilt and shame you’ve been carrying around for years will finally be removed and you can continue to grow and thrive as you work through the twelve steps of recovery!