The Principle of Integrity in Step 5

The Principle of Integrity in Step 5

Taking the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is essential to the fundamental psychic change(personality) required to overcome an alcohol and/or drug addiction. In its simplest form, the fifth step is basically a confession of personal wrongdoings, and the beginnings of your spiritual housecleaning. And the spiritual principle behind this step is integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. When we were drinking and drugging we were the opposite, unscrupulous, dishonest, let’s face it we were a multitude of negative behaviors. But with the fifth step comes the beginning of practicing rigorous honesty and honorable living.

Although in step four we admitted the exact nature of our wrongs, the process of clearing away the wreckage of the past will not be completed until we have shared those wrongs with another person in step five. Including a well-chosen person to be part of the process helps the alcoholic or addict become aware of our own self-delusion, where we have not been totally honest and where there are patterns of destructive thoughts and behaviors and harm to others. And this is where the honesty starts! What a beautiful and righteous process!

Though sometimes painful, Step five is a big milestone in our recovery and can be extremely rewarding, the incredible relief you will feel that comes with getting honest with another alcoholic, (coupled with profound personal insight) makes the fifth step extremely vital. Successful completion of step 5 marks a return to sanity and a much clearer recognition of who and what we are. And most importantly, what we can become through practicing the principle of integrity in our lives.

Everyone at The Latest Thing has taken or is in varying stages of taking a fifth step. Otherwise, we could not have stayed sober! We encourage our recovery friends to be courageous and take the fifth step. We look forward to meeting with you all on your various journeys of living with integrity!

Embracing Integrity in Recovery

Integrity in a 12-step program means integrating the values of the program into every aspect of one’s life. This goes beyond the meetings and into the very essence of how one lives day to day.

  • Acceptance and Honesty: The journey begins with an honest assessment of one's life and behavior. This is crucial because you can't change what you don't acknowledge. Accepting the full reality of one’s situation is the first step toward genuine change.
  • Consistent Values: Integrity means that your beliefs and actions are in harmony. For someone in recovery, this might mean making amends even when it could be personally costly, or abstaining from small dishonesties, like taking extra change given mistakenly at a store.
  • Commitment to Growth: Integrity involves a commitment to personal growth. It acknowledges that recovery is a continuous process of improvement and self-reflection. Each step in a 12-step program offers a chance to improve one’s moral character.
  • Responsibility: Taking full responsibility for one's actions is a key aspect of integrity. It involves owning the consequences of one’s actions and making reparations where necessary. This accountability is vital for personal and relational healing.
  • Service to Others: Integrity often expresses itself through service to others. This aspect of the 12-step program is about giving back and supporting others in their recovery journey, which reinforces one's own commitment to recovery and ethical living.
  • Transparency: Being transparent with oneself, with a sponsor, and within one's support group about one's struggles and successes fosters a culture of trust and authenticity, which are essential for a recovery environment.

The Benefits of Integrity in Recovery

Living with integrity brings numerous benefits to those in recovery:

  • Trust: Building and maintaining trust with others becomes easier when your actions consistently reflect your values.
  • Self-Respect: Acting in line with your principles enhances self-esteem and provides a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • Relapse Prevention: Integrity strengthens your commitment to recovery, reducing the likelihood of relapse by aligning your actions with your recovery goals.
  • Improved Relationships: Integrity leads to healthier relationships, as it promotes honesty, accountability, and trustworthiness—all key ingredients for meaningful connections.

Cultivating Integrity

Developing integrity requires conscious effort and dedication. It can be cultivated through reflection, practice, and the willingness to correct course when necessary. Often, it means doing the harder right instead of the easier wrong, especially when faced with challenges.

In the context of a 12-step program, working closely with a sponsor and engaging deeply with the steps themselves can guide you towards greater integrity. Each step builds upon the last, helping participants not only to abstain from substances but to build a life centered on principled, ethical living.

Integrity is more than a principle in recovery; it is a way of life. It demands consistency between one’s values, words, and actions. As one progresses through a 12-step program, the role of integrity becomes not just a path to personal sobriety, but a blueprint for a rewarding and sustainable life. Thus, in the pursuit of recovery, let integrity be your guide, illuminating the path forward and enriching every step along the way.

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