Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

The A.A. Big Book says When we decide who is to hear our story, we waste no time. No time to say hello, goodbye, no time to waste, we need to make haste.

Reading on the step

1) Pages in the Big Book that cover the fifth step (72-75)

2) Step five in the A.A. Twelve and Twelve (pages55-62)

Questions about the step

  1. What are the objectives of the fifth step?
  2. With whom do you want to take the fifth step with?

We admit to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs we have committed as a result of our character defects.

When two or more are gathered in my name (the name of God) God will be there. The term human being leaves no wiggle room. Not my dog, not a recording, not in my diary, not just me and God.

Sorry junior,  as much as I would love to hear about the cocaine binge the night before the flight physical, it has to be another human be’in.

We have written down our character defects in step four, it is truly humbling to see them in the light of day. It is even more humbling to admit them to another person. It makes them more real and more painful to us, while at the same time it takes away some of its power and a lot of its energy.

We remain into action in step five. We experience a pin prick that punctures our over inflated egos. The Twelve and Twelve tells us that scarcely any step is more necessary to long time sobriety and peace of mind than this one All the Twelve steps help to deflate the ego. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than five

The Twelve and Twelve reveals that the word Humility used in this sense means a clear recognition of what and who we really are followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.


In order to stay sober you have to be rigorously, scrupulously accurate and precisely honest in all your affairs.

It is crucial to be entirely honest

The A.A. Twelve and Twelve says Few muddled attitudes have caused us more trouble than holding back on Step Five. Some people are unable to stay sober at all; others will relapse periodically until them

Really clean house. Even A.A. old timers, sober for years, often pay dearly for skimping on this step



We search out the patterns of thinking and behaviors that has served us poorly. This is a strenuous effort to see clearly, with the help of another person, what is it about ourselves that we need to change in order to be productive, happy and whole. We make a searching and fearless examination of ourselves in the loving presence of another human being and God. We are admitting to ourselves all the wrongs we have done. We have often lied to ourselves as much as we have lied to others. We would even lie when the truth would have served us better.



One potato two potatoes, three potatoes four, who is going to hear my fifth step behind closed doors.

The A.A. Twelve and Twelve gives a description of the person who should hear our fifth step. Someone who is experienced, who not only stayed dry but has been able to surmount other serious difficulties, perhaps like our own. This person may turnout to be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so, Who knows you better than your sponsor baby? Your sponsor by now has revealed much about themselves and its time for you to revel more. As alcoholics we live by the credo ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies We have to develop an intimacy and an honesty with our sponsor that few human being get to experience.. We gain confidence in our sponsor in the process, and in Gods will for us.

There are more things in heaven and earth, HoratioThan are dreamt of in your philosophy.    Hamlet P

The A.A. Twelve and Twelve cautions that even if your sponsor hears your fifth step. It may turn, out, however, that you’l choose someone else for the more difficult and deeper revelations. This individual may be entirely outside of [the program]

For example, your clergy or your doctor. For some of us, a complete stranger may prove the best bet. The A.A. Big Book says that the person who hears our fifth step be able to keep a confidence; that he fully understands and approve what we are driving at; that he will not try to change our plan.


1) We take an honest look at the ship wrecks, the train wrecks, and the car wrecks (literally).We look plainly and completely at our behavior in order to identify those character defects that got us into the mess we now call our lives.

2) With the focus of a magnifying glass we look at our past behaviors and those situations that we want to put far behind us. We can start a fresh with a clean slate. Our life’s lease has been renewed. ( We will be identifying the amends that we will be willing to make in step eight and will actually do in step nine)

3) We humble ourselves before God ,to ourselves and to another human being by admitting the exact nature of our wrongs

4) Emotional memories we feel at the deepest levels conjure up guilt and remorse now motivates us to address our character defects in the steps to come.

5)  We forgive all wrongs, both real and imagined and in turn receive forgiveness.

6)  No man is an Island; we rid ourselves of that terrible sense of isolation and loneliness. We join the fellowship of the spirit.

7) We are relived of our guilt and have lost several dress sizes of shame. If we have been thorough we are freed from the shackles of the past and walk free men and women on the road to happy destiny.


We have planted and sown and our harvest is sweet relief, the perfume of forgiveness and a fresh new healing.

A Twelve step expression, We are as sick as our secrets. Sometimes we try to keep our deepest darkest secrets hoping they will just go away. That nobody needs to know, I can take it to my grave. Our secrets untimely turn into uncle fester and aunt putrid. Only when they are revealed by the light of day they can be healed.

Step five is all about healing and starting over again. A song lyric from Ray Wiley Hubbard “it’s not any easier to be born once as it is twice” We get a do over on life.

The Big Book says Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.

How many fifth steps do I attempt? That Depends on how many fourth steps Completed.

(Give up! There the same number)

The fifth step is the second half of the fourth step. The importance of being earnest comes into play in your first fifth step, the pain that it brought and the accompanying freedom is offended long remembered.


Careful planning can add to the effect that give rise to the feelings of freedom and the release that comes from a well executed and spiritually directed fifth step The fifth step experience is closely tied to the sincerity and the commitment you have as a sponsor to listen carefully and closely to your sponsees inventory. The vulnerability we all assume as sponsees in taking the fifth step with another human being is both awesome and inspiring.

If we are searching and have fearlessly shinned a light in the dark crags and crevices of our deepest and darkest secrets we have exposed ourselves to another person, trusting as we have never trusted before.

Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.

Mohandas Gandhi

To hear another’s fifth step is both an honor and a privilege, there is openness, intimacy and trust the likes of which few humans rarely experience.

The fifth step is a three-way experience among you your sponsee and God.

Remember loose lips sink ships confidentiality and anonymity is at the heart of this step.


Time fly’s when you’re having a good time. A well executed fifth step can easily take five hours, especially if you’re from New York City, Las Vegas or anywhere in Louisiana and some foreign countries including Mississippi.

The Big Book says, We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk.

There is no rush, as much as the sponsee would like to do so. If you go over the allotted time, reschedule for completion. Avoid (fifth stepus, interuptus) no cell phones, no intrusions, bring a snack and limit your bathroom breaks

Remind your sponsee that the fifth step includes an hour of solitary meditation immediately after hearing their inventory. For some it might mean locking themselves in the bathroom


What’s good for one sponsee might not be good for another.

Pray for guidance and listen to your intuition


Emotional memory are holographic by nature they color the experiences of our lives. They are Holographic because they can summon past feelings with the same intensity as when they first happened. Intellectual memories are facts with out feelings. Can you feel the heat? The step is more effective when a sponsee can feel the pain, anger, sadness, loneliness guilt, and shame their character defects and inappropriate behavior has caused so much trouble in the past.

By avoiding those feelings, a sponsee can use intellectual distance to counter the power of the step and the depth of humility it is designed to produce. If you not a feely touchy kind of person (Hey don’t worry about it!)


Quite as a tomb, comfortable as lullaby No distractions. Big Book and Twelve and Twelve are ready for action


1) Start by asking your sponsee, how do you feel? There is a lot of fear around taking a fifth step for both the sponsor and the sponsee. Get it out in the open, if they are fearful acknowledge it, if you are also fearful admit it. (As well as the joy you have at your sponsee taking this all important step)

2) Ask for moment of silence; let the moment hang to center your thoughts. Suggest to your sponsee that they ask God for the strength and courage to be honest and thorough in the step, Ask for guidance and, conclude with the serenity prayer.

3)  Turn to page 72 of the Big Book of alcoholics anonymous (this is where the fifth step begins) Read the entire Fifth step as it is presented in the Big Book down to the last paragraph on page 75  (do not read the last paragraph yet), I alternate reading paragraphs with my sponsee, and I read the first paragraph. The reason is that the sponsee will read the last paragraph the last paragraph is very powerful for a sponsee to read. By alternating, we share the burden and make this aspect of the preparation a partnership experience.

4)  Renew your promise of confidentiality and anonymity this is to reassure them that what they say will be held in strictest confidence.

5)  Where the rubber meets the road, have your sponsee read their entire fourth step inventory so nothing is left out in the cold.

A. Look for repetitive patterns of behavior

Are we doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome?

B. Consider doing a mini fifth step of your own in order share similar experiences so your sponsee won’t feel alone or unique (do not get into “I can top that story”)

C. If it’s not clear from the presentation, ask your sponsee to list character defects that continually come to the surface and cause the most trouble (Double, double, toil and trouble)

D. Has your sponsee left out any character defects that you are aware of, ask about them. Has grandiosity been included? (If not, ask them why they still insisting on being called your majesty?) What about those resentments, (does their poison cup still runneth over) have we taken a closer look? Have the fears been listed and the people we have harmed. Let’s take a closer look at the Seven Deadly Sins if you think they haven’t been covered (pride, greed, lust, anger gluttony envy, and sloth) the sin as it only applies to the character defect.

E. Tell me the good, for I weary of the bad and the ugly give me the assets, some are real keepers. That’s fine, let’s do them now.

6) Once completed ask your sponsee if there is anything else that they might have neglected to put down i.e. (the great train robbery, five polygamist wives, a bogus entry at the church bake sale) Searching and fearless and most of all honest. The slates clean if we leave nothing out. We can walk away from this step a free human being.

7. Hold on to your hat and your copy of the fourth step inventory you will need it for steps eight and nine the amend list will be generated from the fourth and fifth steps.

8. The last paragraph on page 75 of the Big Book describes what your sponsee should do after completing the fifth step with you, it suggests

A. return home

B. Be quite for an hour

C. Review what has been revealed to them in the fifth step?

D. review the first Five Steps

E. Thank God for the spiritual progress that has been made

(for knowing [God] better, as the A.A. Big Book puts it)

F. Ask you’re self if there is anything that has been omitted in taking those steps

Tell your sponsee the Step has not been worked until all these actions have been taken. Remind your sponsee that they are to call you at the end of the hour to discuss any revelations, thoughts, and feelings.

9. Tell your sponsee what has happened in the past now belongs to the past. Their slate is clean they are now free.

10. Close with a prayer of thanksgiving; invite your sponsee to follow yours with one of their own.

11. Close by saying the Lord’s Prayer together if appropriate, otherwise use the serenity prayer, or a  prayer of their own choosing.

Remind your sponsee that the Step Has not been taken until they make the   call to  you after the hour of personal examination and contemplation. I have some very profound and interesting remarks after that hour that include and not limited to: I feel like an empty shell, I feel like a new man . I feel clean , I’m at peace, I’m good, I only have a minute I am about to sit down to diner.

When I do loose a sponsee it seems very often it is at Step Six, after the hard work of the Fourth and Fifth Steps Step that Step Six dose not look that daunting. I believe that it’s answered in Step Five in the 12×12 ” it was the beginning of a true kinship between God and man”  With that beginning the pain has all but subsided and a spiritual pink cloud envelops . Pain, the motivating fuel has now been expended, Like always the sponsee finds solace and comfort  in the meetings from the spiritual bump they so often provide .. and the hard work of  Steps Six through  goes wanting . Until a relapse or life on life’s terms generate enough pain to get them back into the recovery fold the meetings become their sober life line , but if your not working the Steps you might be sober but your not in recovery.

The Big Book was more casual about who heard your Fifth Step, anyone who knew what you were driving at and would not try and dissuade you. This was done for practical purposes as there was not a lot a folks at the time who were available in the program and sponsorship had just started evolving. Now becuse of practical experience of application the 12×12 gives a more refined and a greater beneficial approach for both parties concerned.

Until we have spoken with complete candor with someone and they have done the same with us, we still didn’t belong, Step Five was the answer it was the beginning of a true kin ship between God and Man.  Not only are we to SPEAK  a Fifth Step, we are also to HEAR a Fifth Step, who hears a Fifth Step? In most instances a sponsor, so until you have heard a Fifth you still did not belong, you were circling the field waiting to run out of spiritual  gasoline,  and then its another crash and burn Vern.


The problem with willingness is that it takes  discipline, the problem with  discipline  is that it takes motivation, the problem with



motivation is that not now becomes manana.

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Mission Statement

Our mission is to inform, inspire, and empower alcoholics anonymous sponsorship locally and internationally to be their very best --- both personally and spiritually.

I would like to acknowledge Hamilton B and his tireless work in the recovery community and his work "Twelve Step Sponsorship How it works" a Hazelton publication and his permission to use what ever was needed to make possible my ongoing sponsorship workshop and Step study and this website.