Why is the Fourth Step Scary?

In meetings, we often hear about the Fourth Step as if it was a tremendous obstacle to overcome. But, really, why is the Fourth Step scary? Isn’t it just like all the other steps? Well, yes and no.

Why Is The Fourth Step Scary For Addicts and Alcoholics?

The Fourth Step is the first Step that requires actual sit-down and thorough work. The first three Steps are little more than admitting the problem, acknowledging the hopelessness of said problem, realizing that nothing short of Divine Intervention can solve such a problem, and deciding to seek out that Divine source to relieve said problem.

Not exactly a lot of work for someone who just came in and has plenty of evidence to work with. Usually, we are quite beaten, so it isn’t difficult for us to think of however many ways in which we were both powerless and that our lives were unmanageable. That’s usually what brings people into our Orange County drug and alcohol treatment centers like ours in the first place.

The Fourth Step requires a lot more, though. It requires following directions, detailing all of the things from which we ran for so long, and facing those people, places, things, and ideas head-on in black ink and white paper.

That can be a pretty scary prospect for many of us. At the same time, though, it’s just that: fear. Yet we are used to lives of fear—fear of the police, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of loss, fear of family, fear of responsibility…essentially any type of fear that exists, we’ve experienced it.

So why would we be afraid of facing the things we know we did and that have already happened? Occasionally, there are valid reasons why the alcoholic or addict is afraid of this, but in the vast majority of cases, it essentially boils down to “it is uncomfortable.”

That might not seem like much, but discomfort to the addict or alcoholic in any form is the prime reason for going back and experiencing the life of discomfort that brought us to recovery in the first place.

Is it logical? No, but since when has that stopped vehemently individualistic and stubborn people like us?

We are people with fragile egos. The Big Book of AA even goes so far as to describe alcoholics as egomaniacs with inferiority complexes.

The real fear about the Fourth Step lies in…well, the lies. We have to acknowledge the truth that we played a role in these experiences, and that our best thinking left us with morning shakes, track marks, burned fingers, and an unhealthy appreciation of glass surfaces.

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