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The Principles of the Twelve Steps: Courage

Courage - Woman raising her fist in victory

Searching and Fearless

The principles of twelve-step programs each correspond to a step. This week’s principle undergirds the fourth step, which has a reputation both infamous and legendary among those of us in recovery. The step reads, we “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” After admitting to ourselves we had a problem with drugs and alcohol, coming to believe there is a better life available to us, and making the decision to “turn the keys over” to a power greater than ourselves, it’s time to start taking an honest look at ourselves, our shortcomings, and the wreckage of our past. After years of drinking and drugging, it’s a terrifying proposition. And if we’re to do it honestly, it takes a whole lot of courage.

The Solution to Isolation and Fear

The topic of “fear” comes up often in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. A quote on page 145 says that “The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, anger, and fear.” Page 62 says that we were “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity.” Indeed, those of us who have struggled with drugs and alcohol have also struggled to cope with life on life’s terms. Somewhere along the line, we became psychologically isolated and with this isolation comes fear. Drinking and drugging became the faulty coping skills to deal with this fear. And the only solution to all this fear is courage.

Gaining a New Confidence

If you’ve been reading our previous blogs on the principles, it should be apparent by now that these principles overlap and feed off of each other. After all, it takes courage to be honest with ourselves and admit we have a problem. It takes courage to make the decision to turn our will over to something else. And it takes courage – every day – to face life on its own terms. We aren’t suggesting that those of us in recovery are completely fearless. Rather, we learn to confront our fears and deal with them head-on. It was Nelson Mandela who said, “I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” However, once we start to face our fears and make it a habit, we gain a new confidence. We start to notice that many of the things that filled us with anxiety are pretty small after all.

Real Courage Means Asking for Help

If you’ve been struggling with drugs or alcohol, learning to face your fears can be very difficult to do on your own. After all, the twelve-step programs wait to address it directly until the fourth step. Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to give yourself an honest examination of your life after so much time under the influence of chemicals. Fortunately, you don’t have to take these steps on your own.

Ocean Recovery has successfully helped men and women overcome substance use disorders since 2002. Many of our expertly trained staff members also have personal experience with recovery. They’ve been where you are now and are ready to help you start walking a new path.

As a luxury drug rehab, we can help you safely and comfortably overcome your addiction and begin a life of sobriety. All you have to do is give us a call to start the admissions process today. Real courage means asking for help. Ocean Recovery is ready to answer.


Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.

1. Wilson B. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book. Courier Dover Publications; 2019.

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Last medically reviewed August 1, 2022.