Addiction Recovery: Step 4 - Moral Inventory

For many with drug, alcohol, sex or other additions, working through the 12 steps have been not only a life saver, but a life-enhancer.  They find their lives are much better than they would have been without working the steps.  The fourth step of addiction recovery seems to have a reputation amongst 12 step groups. For one, it is the first step where you put pen to paper and do some work.  People are also hesitant because of the work itself. This step of addiction recovery, more so than others, causes people to pull back the reins and balk.

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”

Many take a look at this step and wonder, “What is a fearless moral inventory?” Simply put, this step makes individuals take a look at their lives and pinpoint when they were selfish, self seeking, harmful or untruthful. It provides a safe place for people in addiction recovery to look back and see the mistakes they have made, but more importantly allows them to learn from the mistakes and move on. The importance of doing this step with a sponsor cannot be stressed enough for this reason.

Many procrastinate doing the 4th step due to feelings of shame and guilt or out of fear of stirring up old hurts.  But doing the fourth step allows us to see our defects of character and helps us realize why we did these things and how the behaviors are tied in to our addiction. In theory, moving away from our “alcoholic behaviors” will help prevent us from drinking alcohol or using drugs again in the future. The fourth step looks at your resentments, fears and harms in depth, and specifically considers what your part in them is. The real power behind this step is taking time to look at these behaviors all at once in a safe environment. Most addicts in recovery know about these behaviors, but the fourth step helps you look at them in a new light.  It’s a way to leave them behind and move on to new behaviors that promote our sobriety and help us live a better life.

Until we really review and acknowledge our past behaviors, we cannot move past them. Keeping them hidden or unobserved only allows these past behaviors to continue to reemerge in our lives.  By examining them and understanding them, we can learn to move beyond the behaviors and the patterns that led to them.

After doing a thorough fourth step, or fearless moral inventory, we are ready to move on in our step work, which helps facilitate removing these behaviors from ourselves, and ultimately making amends for these behaviors. The fourth step is the first of many “actions steps”, steps which require rigorous action to gain sobriety as opposed to decision.  Though difficult at times, the fourth step is in many ways the foundation for the rest of the steps that follow.  Step 5 of addiction recovery is next!

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility.  New Hope With Pride  provides specific programming for our LGBT community members. If you would like guidance or help in handling your own addiction or that of a loved one, please contact us at 773.883.3916.

New Hope Recovery Center supports addiction recovery by offering a number of open meetings at our facility for those looking to participate in a 12 step program.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center