Step 4: Twelve-Step Program

A note on language: At Renascent we help people recover from substance use addiction and integrate 12-Step facilitation into our programming. We recognize that the substances our clients are recovering from and the 12-Step groups they connect with may vary. Throughout our website you may see general terms relating to the 12 Steps as we are inclusive of all recovery programs, including AA, CA, and OA.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

As you move into Step 4, you will begin to look inward at your own behaviour, this may be negative or challenging to confront. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. During this step, it may bring up emotions that are uncomfortable and that is okay. Recovery is a journey, it is up to you to go at a pace that you are most comfortable with. 

Looking inward

Although every step in the 12 Principles is focused on your health and growth, Step 4 requires you to look inward. During recovery, it can sometimes be difficult to examine your feelings and behaviour. By doing so, you can move forward in your recovery journey with clarity. 

For some, struggling with addiction may have affected their relationships with others creating tension or strain with those that you are close to. By going through these principles, and with focus on Step 4, you will soon understand the impact of your behaviour on yourself, and others. You may have to look at past events that cause uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness or embarrassment. This may not be easy, but you should know that by addressing past events, you will move forward with integrity and honesty. 

Finding peace 

For Step 4, you have to be honest with yourself. Because of this, it can not only be difficult to face but also become exhausting and at times even painful. During this part of the 12 principles it is important to draw on your support systems as well as your higher power. 

Starting Step 4 is as easy as picking up a pen and paper. This is a chance for you to be honest with yourself. During this, you can write down and explore your feelings, your thoughts or moments in your life. There is no need to rush, you can take as much time as you’d like. 

You can start by wanting to find peace physically, mentally and spiritually. Also, come into Step 4 with a willingness to bring awareness to your behaviour and actions.

This part of the 12 principles is open to all feelings both good and bad. Remember, this is a chance for you to explore your feelings and reflect upon them. 

The importance of reflection

You will find the power to let go, and release the hurt you have been holding on to.  

It’s okay to be scared

This step can be very challenging because you are asked to confront and reflect upon feelings that you may not be ready to confront or work on. That’s why during Step 4 it is merely a step forward in your recovery, and we understand that reflecting on your feelings, and the thought of having to pursue a change can be an overwhelming experience.

We have people who have experienced the same doubts such as Stacey, an addictions counsellor here at Renascent. Stacey expressed that she held onto a lot of guilt and shame when moving forward towards Step 4. And how, during her experience with this principle, reflecting on her feelings did bring up a lot of bad memories, and feelings. Yet she emphasized how it was part of understanding herself. 

Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes it doesn’t happen according to our schedule. That is more than ok. Jamie’s experience with addiction started when she was a child and was prescribed opioids which had an impact on her life as she grew older. She acknowledged how during Step 4 she felt emotions like insecurity, fear and how during this step it was often painful. Jamie reflected on the importance of reflection during Step 4 but also took into consideration how much moving on can give way for healing. By providing herself the room to acknowledge and heal from her past experiences she was able to draw on her strength and resilience to keep moving forward in her road to recovery.

How Renascent helps

With Renascent we understand the difficult decision that you need to make when starting your recovery journey. Our counsellors have been where you are. We prioritize what you need, and encourage you to take your time as you go throughout the 12 AA Principles. We are here for you in your Road to Recovery. 

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.