Christian Living


Overcoming Addictions 08/05/16

Can You Tell Right from Wrong? Step 4 in Addiction Recovery


“We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Alcoholics Anonymous

Each step away from our addiction or destructive behavior is a step closer to looking at the real problem – US! We need to come face-to-face with our character defects, our emotional makeup, and identify our flawed thinking. 

This is not the time that we start pointing the finger at our parents, our spouses, and our circumstances. That would be an inventory of our excuses and justifications for our addiction. This is entirely different. It takes work and soul-searching!

If you are doing inventory for a retail business, you do a thorough item-by-item count of what you have in stock. When taking a moral inventory of ourselves, we identify the rights and wrongs in our lives. For example, if I’m spending a good portion of my income on my addiction and failing to pay bills, repay loans, and not buying enough healthy food for myself and my family, I’ve identified some moral shortcomings. This inventory would include selfishness, irresponsible behavior, deception, misplaced priorities, sexual promiscuity, and negligence – anything that’s sinful and anything that we make excuses for or downplay its negativity. 

When you begin your inventory, what are the most obvious moral shortcomings you can identify? Are you violent? Have you hurt people with your words or your callousness? Each of us is different and each of us has moral defects whether we are able to admit it or not.

Conducting this inventory becomes the cornerstone and foundation for rebuilding our lives. We see what’s not right and why it’s not right. We do the best we can to isolate our behavior without blaming others and holding onto resentment or the victim mentality. Once we have our first inventory list, we have a starting point for change. This step can be repeated again and again as we grow in our recovery and discover products on our shelves we had overlooked.

Pride can often be a huge obstacle for some people in defining their moral issues. It is common for us to say that the alcohol, the crack, the Internet porn, or whatever our addiction causes the moral defect and believe that once we abstain from our addiction, there will no longer be a problem. The end result of that thinking is a “dry drunk.” This is someone who no longer uses, but has all the personality traits as if they still did.

Any thorough moral inventory will also include positive traits. Being truthful, encouraging to others, helpful, seeking to do God’s will, prayerful, a good provider, and many more positive moral traits should also be listed. We need to notice our good moral choices so we have a starting point for an inventory we would like to increase and frankly, so we don’t get so down on ourselves that we lose hope.

Are you ready and willing to search your actions and life choices and begin your moral inventory? 

If recovery ended with the inventory and there were no further steps, we’d be awfully depressed. However, just like the retail store, items that don’t sell well are identified and eventually phased out to make room on the shelves for items that do sell well. It is in this phase that we figure out what we do that doesn’t serve us well and needs to phase out of our lives. Through faith and adopting new moral codes, we can begin to see small victories that set us on the path to freedom.

What has God shown you that you need to admit is a moral problem in your life? This is a safe place to share and begin your inventory.

Copyright 2009 Beth Livingston. Used by permission.

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