Get help today 888-744-0069 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 10

Recovery from alcohol is a journey that involves many steps and services. One service that some individuals find essential to their sobriety is the involvement in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or AA. Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-Step groups can help individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) live a happier, healthier life without the use of alcohol. AA follows the 12-Steps which serve as guidelines for how to live life in recovery from alcohol.

Here, we will take a closer look at Step 10 of the 12-Steps and explore what Step 10 is; how to start, work, and follow it; myths and misunderstandings about AA and Step 10; and how to find help if you are struggling with AUD.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous Step 10?

The 12-Steps are a progression from one to the other, and each preceding step serves as a base for the following step. Step 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”1 Step 10 is when you commit to putting into practice the principles of AA daily, regardless of how you are feeling or what is going on in your life.

Taking inventory refers to a process that occurs when you reflect on personal flaws and make a commitment to correct these mistakes; it also means acknowledging areas of strength.1

Inventory refers to accurate self-appraisal of our jobs well-done and, on the flip side, identifying where credit is due.1 Taking inventory can occur at various times throughout the day and year. For example, spot-check inventory can occur at any point throughout your day and is usually triggered by uncomfortable or confusing emotions.1

Taking inventory can also occur at the end of the day, where you reflect on the occurrences within the past 24 hours.1 It can be unique to you. Some AA members like to have annual or semi-annual “housecleaning” sessions with their sponsor where they assess their progress since the last meeting.1

Taking inventory has many benefits. For example, a spot-check inventory can help you regulate negative and dark emotions in the present moment.1 When taking quick inventories at the moment, you can more effectively manage your emotions and reduce your risk of making mistakes.1 Taking inventory can also help you find a resolution to long-standing difficulties that have been avoided or postponed.1

The first 9 steps are preparation steps for your sober new life. Step 10 is an application of the AA principles in your life. Step 10 is a continuous reflection on both your liabilities and your assets and a willingness to grow from this self-reflection.1

Another important element in this step is a willingness to work and correct what is wrong at this moment without avoidance.1 Therefore, this step requires both immediate admission and correction of errors.

How to Start, Work, and Follow Step 10

A key feature of Step 10 is self-restraint. More specifically, Step 10 requires a genuine reflection of what is involved, a willingness to acknowledge our faults and mistakes, and an equal amount of willingness to forgive when the fault is not ours to own.1 Like many steps before it, Step 10 requires a willingness in spirit to take accountability and to forgive. The development of self-restraint is one of the first objectives of Step 10.1

When starting Step 10, you may feel overwhelmed, and that’s okay. It is important to understand that you are not striving for perfection; rather, you are working towards progress. It is recognizing that the steps are challenging and not something that can be mastered. Acknowledging the difficulty in following the steps helps ward off feelings of discouragement.1

Recognition of progress and abandonment of a desire to be perfect allows us to show grace to ourselves and others. Striving for perfection is an unreasonable expectation to have. When you stop placing unreasonable expectations onto others, you’re able to show kindness, courtesy, and justice towards others; you may even go out of your way to try to help and understand them.1

If you are struggling with where to start or have found yourself at a standstill with Step 10, try asking yourself, “am I doing onto others as I would have them done to me today?”1 Also, taking inventory isn’t only about acknowledging the mistakes or “debts” as AA refers to them. Taking inventory is a comprehensive reflection and acknowledgment of all sides.

Through an acknowledgment of all sides, combined with a willingness to correct our flaws, we are working on self-improvement. It is helpful to learn daily, to spot, admit, and correct our faults is inherent to good living and overall character building.1 Step 10 encourages you to identify acts of self-righteousness, have a willingness to right your wrongs, and identify strengths and blessings bestowed upon you.1

Myths and Misunderstandings about AA Step 10

Step 10 asks that you examine the motives behind your mistakes. Usually, it is an underlying emotion such as anger, anxiety, or pride.1 Contrary to what you may think, neither AA nor the 12-Steps asks that you punish yourself for mistakes you’ve made or for having personal flaws. When you examine your motives behind your flaws, AA asks that you acknowledge the mistakes, visualize how you can improve upon them, and commit to working through them with God or your higher power; this includes making necessary amends where warranted.1

AA references God in the literature. However, it is important to understand that God is subjective to each person, and therefore, the term higher power is also used in AA literature. Higher power refers to an entity that is greater than you. Your higher power is unique to you, and it doesn’t have to affiliate with any specific religion. AA does not associate or affiliate with any specific religion or spiritual group.2

If you have reservations or are confused about AA or Step 10, that should not stop you from getting treatment for your substance use disorder (SUD). Studies have consistently shown that AA and 12-Step support groups are beneficial.

Benefits of AA-specific participation include:3

  • Strengthening your ability to cope with life’s challenges.
  • Improving your overall physical and mental health.
  • Strengthening self-efficacy (an individual’s belief that they can be successful).

Benefits of participation in 12-Step groups include:3

  • Maintaining long-term abstinence from substances and preventing relapse.
  • Creating a support system of peers with similar experiences who also have similar goals.
  • Learning the tools necessary to manage stress and challenges without the use of substances.
  • Increasing self-esteem and confidence.
  • Developing adaptive thoughts about others, the world, and yourself.

How to Find Help with Alcoholics Anonymous Step 10

Don’t let fear, confusion, or overwhelm stop you from benefiting from treatment. Effective substance use treatment is available to you right now. Comprehensive substance abuse treatment can help you:4

  • Develop the necessary skills to end your alcohol misuse.
  • Learn the skills necessary to prevent relapse and sustain long-term sobriety.
  • Change your unhealthy beliefs and attitudes about alcohol.
  • Improve your productivity at work, at school, and in other areas of your life.
  • Improve your overall functioning and strengthen relationships with the people you love.

Like addiction, alcohol treatment is a complex process that is unique to you and involves a variety of interventions, treatment settings, and services.4 At American Addiction Centers (AAC), we understand the importance of providing effective treatment, and we work with you to customize your treatment plan based on your needs.

By calling today, you can speak with a compassionate admissions navigator who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our admissions navigators can help answer questions you may have about the treatment process and can even help verify your insurance. You can also instantly verify your insurance coverage online and locate an alcohol rehab center using our online directory.

AA meetings are available everywhere, including internationally. So, if you are traveling or away from home, you can find a meeting near you. You can locate AA meetings by visiting the Alcoholics Anonymous website. Now is the time to get the help you need. You deserve a healthy life free from alcohol addiction. Call AAC today at .

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.