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Post Info TOPIC: How does an AA 4th step differ from Al-Anon 4th Step

Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 418
How does an AA 4th step differ from Al-Anon 4th Step

I do have a sponsor who is a double winner.  She has been working the steps with me and she did admit that she only knows one way to work the steps and that is the AA way. 

I have heard it said that the 4th step in AA is different from the one in Al-Anon.
Can someone clarify this for me?


Everything I have ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 3856

Hi Mo, for me AA 4th step leaves nothing to the imagination  if u really really really want to know yourself that is the way to go . I personaly have done my steps this way  4 times .  I found tht our stps (al anon ) were a little too iffy for me left lots of loop holes for me to hide . hehe  I was tired of lying to myself  AA steps leave nothing out .  I need to be hit with a brick occasionally and AA steps did that for me .   What ever way u choose to do this is up to you ,this is just my opinion . it works for me . My steps is the only time I deviate from Al-Anon prog.    Louise

-- Edited by abbyal at 14:56, 2008-09-17


I came- I came to-I came to be

~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 13719

The searching and fearless moral inventory that an Alcoholic takes is founded
in the consequences of being alcoholic.  What I did to myself and others that
hurt myself and others as a result of my alcoholism.  Al-Anon doesn't have
the "under the influence of" safety net.  Yes we were under the influence of
the disease and...we didn't have the personal defects from the chemical. 
The steps are the same.  Al-Anon's 12 steps were adapted from AA and AA's
12 steps were founded from another religious fellowship the Oxford Movement.

I would suggest that you get the help from an experienced Al-Anon member
to also help you thru your forth step.  I am a double...entering and staying in
Al-Anon and 9 years into Al-Anon as a result of a chemical dependency
assessment getting into AA to hedge against relapse.   Not so unusual.  I have
done all 6 of my 4th steps in Al-Anon and took full responsibility over the
discovery and amends process.  Many of my character defects were seeded,
sprouted and harvest before my personal involvement with alcohol or an
alcoholic.  Each 4th steps was deeper than the one before it and I am glad
for the mentoring I received from sponsors and others in recovery. 

Al-Anon also has their "Big Book" and their 12 X 12 and more.  Go to the
CAL (Conference Approved Literature) while you are on this journey to
avoid confusion.   Just a suggestion.

Stay with your progress.  The program works as your work it.  (((((hugs)))))


~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 4599

You know I am aware of quite a few programs. Every program has a different focus and a different way of looking at the 4th step.  Of course it is different issues in an al anon 4th step. Some people do indeed use the big book as a back up reference point but really what you are looking at is much much different.

I know one of my friends is a recovering alcoholic and we sometimes do not understand what the other is saying about the 12 steps.  I am fine with that these days.  My days of evangelzing the world are very much over!



~*Service Worker*~

Status: Offline
Posts: 3676


I think there is a more brutal honesty that the AA steps demand.  It's not that ours don't.  It's just that when I talked to my Tim about the 4th step when I needed help, it seemed like the AA side was more demanding.  I don't know if that makes sense.  The only thing I can think of is, is that because they can die from their disease, not to be honest would be life threatening.  At least it seemed that way to me.  I personally think, everyone should work some kind of 12 step program, regardless of what their life has been like.  It's just a great thing to do.  I'd like to go back and rework the steps the AA way and see what happens.  Much love and blessings to you and your family.

Live strong,
Karilynn & Pipers Kitty reading.gif

-- Edited by Karilynn at 21:13, 2008-09-17

It's your life. Take no prisoners. You will have it your way.

Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 470

I think she's just talking about a format.  AA has their own "form" for working the 4th step, which is laid out in detail in the big book.  The specifics escape me, maybe someone else will help out - it's something like, who I resent, what the incident was, what my part is.  And this is done repeatedly for specific categories - financial, sexual, some others.

Alanon sponsors use a variety of methods of working the 4th step.  My own sponsor told me I could work it "however I wanted to".  One option is the "Blueprint for Progress" workbook, which is in question and answer format.  Another is to use the Alateen workbook, which I've heard several people say has worked well for them - it has questions and answers too, but also drawing excercises.  Another is to read through the step 4 chapter in Paths to Recovery and answer the questions at the end of the chapter (I think there's more to this last method, but again am not personally familiar with this one).

In any case I have heard many Alanonics who have used the AA "method" for working the 4th step at some point, precisely because that's the way the sponsor they're working with at the time is familiar with.  I've never heard any of them say they wish they had done it a different way, though I have heard people say that one method or another worked better for them personally, when they had tried several methods.

Personally, I don't think it's an issue.  The objective is a searching and fearless moral inventory.  If you're cleaning out a cupboard, does it matter if you pull the old can of beans out before the old box of Cream of Wheat?  Does it matter if you use Windex or soap and water, paper towels or a cloth rag?  There will be value in whatever method you use - and it probably won't be the only 4th step you ever do either, so not to worry about doing it "wrong".


Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 418

Thank you all so very much for your responses. I have been in Al-Anon close to four years now and have attended meeting religiously. My husband and I started a group at the request of our church (with no affiliation with the church just meetings in the building). We attend a minimum of two meetings weekly and when the need arises we find others to attend as well.

My current sponsor is a double winner and when it came to the steps she said she only knew one way to work them and that is the AA way. Which so far has worked out fantastic. What suprised me was the 4th step. I have heard many times in meetings when people shared about working their 4th, that they cried for hours while doing it. When I worked it with my sponsor we laughed through most of it. She wasn't laughing at me but laughing with me. Personally I'll take a laugh any day over tears.

I am currently working on Step 8 and have been asked by others to sponsor them. I have accepted one sponcee who is very low maintance. I thought that might be the safest way to go for the first one. So at this point I think I'll just take it slowly and let my HP lead me to where I need to be with her and those that follow.

I do have a copy of Blueprint for Progress as well as Paths to Recovery which we use in the Wednesday night step meeting. So I think a bit of homework is in order here to see which one fits which sponcee.

Thanks again for your responses.


Everything I have ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

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