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What is a Moral Inventory?
Step four of the 12-step program requires that individuals make a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves.1,2 A moral inventory is a written objective assessment of your life, including character deficits, strengths and weaknesses, and an overarching look at the damage you’ve caused with your addiction.
This step, although difficult, is an important part of achieving long-term sobriety in drug rehab. It requires that you step back, take an honest look at the damage your addiction has caused, and take ownership of that damage.
Working through the 12 steps in drug and alcohol rehab takes hard work. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time, taking a moral inventory of your life can be painful, but it’s an essential step in your sobriety and will allow you to identify areas of your life where things are out of balance.
The Importance of Taking Personal Inventory in Drug Rehab
During drug rehab, you’ll have the opportunity to take a personal and moral inventory of your own life. Although this might be something you dread, before you can repair the damage caused by your addiction, you must first recognize and come to terms with it. This process can also help you determine the underlying cause(s) of your addiction.
Step four is meant to be difficult and will require that you face yourself and the truth about your addiction. This can give you the courage and motivation you need to move on and start your new life in sobriety. In essence, you’ll face the worst of yourself so you can become the best version of yourself.
Another important aspect of taking a personal and moral inventory in rehab is that you’ll learn how to stop blaming others for your problems and take ownership of them. When you’re in active addiction, it’s easy to blame everyone else for your problems and play the victim, but that type of mindset will never lead to freedom from addiction.
Taking a moral inventory while enrolled in drug and alcohol rehab will help you confront truths about yourself and your behaviors and begin to develop new, healthy attitudes and beliefs.
How to Take Inventory Of Your Own Life
To take inventory of your life, you’ll need to look at any troubling and obvious personal flaws you possess and consider all of your resentment, fear, and any harm that you have done to others. Here are some examples of different aspects of life you may choose to consider:
- Physical and mental health – Do you ignore your physical needs, such as nutrition and exercise? Or are you overly focused on them to the point of self-destruction? Do you bring friends and family members down with negative comments about yourself?
- Relationships – Have you lied to family members and friends? Do you make excuses for your inappropriate behavior? Who have you hurt, and how?
- Recreational activities – Are you self-righteous about your success? Do you bully others? Do you isolate yourself?
- Finances – Do you lie about the way you spend your money? Do you jeopardize the wellbeing of your family by overspending? What character flaws contribute to your financial problems?
- Education and/or career – Do you cheat or lie to get ahead? Do you push others down to advance your career? Do you have an unhealthy craving for power and position?
Writing down any objective takeaways from these areas and discussing them with your sober peers in drug rehab is a great way to keep yourself accountable to change. Your peers and recovery specialist will help you to focus on progress, not perfection, and remember your personal strengths throughout this process.
It’s okay to admit that you lied or that you hurt and manipulated others. As you forgive yourself and gradually shed all the anger, shame, and lies, you’ll begin to discover who you really are at your core.
Make It a Habit
Step 10 in the Big Book suggests taking a moral inventory regularly, even after you complete step four.3 Making a habit of self-assessment and reflection can cultivate a continuous desire to learn and grow from it. Some people find that daily journaling helps them achieve this.
Taking a personal and moral inventory of your life is step four in the 12-step program and it should not be completed before completing steps one through three. When you enroll in drug and alcohol rehab at Nova Recovery Center, a recovery specialist will walk with you through each individual step and guide you through the recovery process. You’ll also have the opportunity to discuss each step with your peers and work through any personal issues you face during this time.
Long-term rehab and the 12-step program are personally challenging but they can also be life-changing. Read more about one Nova client who transformed his life through our rehab program or call our admissions team to enroll today.