Steps Four and Five talk about a thorough inventory, and Step Ten asks you to conduct a continuing, daily inventory.

Thorough & Searching

The Fourth Step inventory is a major assessment of strengths and weaknesses. Its purpose is to gain information that will be used in Steps Five through Nine.

When you share with God and/or another person the inventory you have prepared, and get their feedback, that is Step Five.

Purpose The purpose of an inventory is to see what you have, what you need to keep, and what you need to discard. The Twelve-Step program suggests you don’t need those things that interfere with your ability to be of maximum service to your Higher Power and other people.

Step guides There are many guides to doing the Fourth Step, including booklets from various publishers and some brief instructions in chapter 5 of the Big Book. Some people write things chronologically, following logical blocks of time.

With whom? The inventory can be shared with someone in the clergy, a sponsor, or someone else in a Twelve-Step program. They should understand what the Fifth Step is about, and you should be willing to share your most sensitive information with them.

Confession? The Fifth Step is more than what most people think of as confession. In some religions or denominations, confession is a sacrament of the Church. Early AA history talks about the benefits of confession and links that to the Fifth Step. Indeed, some things you discover in your inventory you may want to “confess”, but the primary purpose of the Fourth Step inventory is to discover the information that will be needed to use all the later Steps.

Cleaning house The inventory (Step Four) and sharing it (Step Five) both lead directly into Step Six, becoming ready to have God, your Higher Power, or the workings of the program remove the shortcomings you have identified in Steps Four and Five.

Step Seven is when you humbly ask your Higher Power or Program to remove these defects of character.

Step Eight asks you to list all you have harmed. Your inventory gave you some ideas about that and helped you decide what harm means.

Step Nine is where you make direct amends to these people.


For the daily inventory that Step Ten mentions, some people like inventory sheets to fill out. Others like to write in a diary or journal. Still others just like to go over the day’s activities and lessons learned just before retiring. One recovering addict says she likes to keep her Tenth Step handy because she never knows when she might need it. Anything that works is OK.

You could even go through the modules listed below, and get a lot of ideas for your inventory.

Inventory, see also: Abuse, Acceptance, Addiction, Affirmations, Amends, Anger, Assertiveness, Attitudes, Behavior, Beliefs, Body image, Character defects, Codependency, Control, Coping skills, Crisis, Defenses, Delusion, Detachment, Dichotomous thinking, Enabling, Energy levels, Excitement, Exercise & activity, Family, Family of origin, Fantasy, Fear, Feelings, Forgiveness, Grace, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt & shame, Habit & structure, Half-measures, Higher Power, Honesty, Humility, Humor & fun, Hunger & appetite, Incest, Integrity & values, Judgment, Love & caring, Moderation, Money, Nutrition, Obsession, Openmindedness, Perfectionism, Power, Prayer & meditation, Priorities, Program, Psychological problems, Relationships, Relaxation, Resentments, Responsibility, Satiety, Self-centeredness, Self-image, Serenity, Service & giving, Sex, Sleep, Spending, Spirituality, Step Three, Step Four, Step Five, Step Six, Step Eight, Step Ten, Stinking thinking, Stress & strain, Surrender, Survival roles, Therapy & treatment, Trust, Willingness.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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