So you’ve made it to Step 9 of the 12 Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous. Congratulations! You should feel proud of the progress you’ve made so far! Now comes one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, parts of the program: making amends. Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous is a watershed moment on the road to recovery, where individuals embark on a journey of self-discovery, healing, and transformation. To complete this step, you must confront your past and present. After taking stock of issues and conflicts you may have had, it’s time to start making amends to both others and yourself.
As we delve into the complexities of Step 9, we discover a tremendous opportunity for personal growth and reconciliation. Step 9 allows you to further your addiction recovery journey with a newfound sense of purpose and a commitment to rebuilding relationships, both with our loved ones and with our own inner selves.
Making amends is hard work but it will help you move on to Step 10 with a clean slate and a clear conscience. Crestview Recovery in Portland, Oregon, is here to provide the support, guidance, and resources you need to help you along this transformative path. Together, we’ll work to rebuild your life, repair relationships, and find the inner peace you deserve.
What is Step 9 of AA?
Step 9 of AA is about making amends, which is more than just saying “I’m sorry.” It means recognizing the impact of your actions, taking responsibility for your mistakes, and making a commitment to doing better. Unlike a simple apology, making amends focuses on the other person, acknowledging the harm caused and taking actions to make things right. When done sincerely, it’s a healing process for both you and the person you’ve harmed.
In more detail, Step 9 involves the following:
- Making a list: First, compile a list of people you have harmed directly or indirectly due to your addiction. This list is essential, as it prompts you to face the consequences of your actions toward others.
- Getting prepared: In this step, you prepare to make amends to those on your list. To do this, consider the apologies you’re planning to make and be willing to accept the reaction they illicit; it’s important to make a commitment to address the harm you’ve caused.
- Making amends: This step involves taking action to make things right with those you’ve harmed, except when it could lead to more harm. The process of making amends might include apologizing, making reparations, or taking other appropriate actions to rectify the harm caused.
- Continuing to self-reflect: Step 9 is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process. It’s about learning from your mistakes, making changes in your behavior, and continually working on your personal growth and recovery.
What are the Types of Amendments in Step 9 of AA?
In Step 9 AA, individuals have various types of amends to address the harm caused by their addiction. The amends you make can take many forms. You may pay back money you owe or perform physical labor to repair damage to a property. Most often, it involves having an honest conversation where you listen with an open mind and accept the other person’s reaction. The point is to make things right to the best of your ability. Sometimes, this means understanding when the person with whom you’re making amends isn’t ready to grant forgiveness. Still, it’s important to express your desire to repair the relationship.
It’s helpful to categorize amendments into different types, like the following:
Living amends are not just words but a commitment to meaningful change. This form of amends involves actively altering your behavior and embracing positive life transformations. This includes quitting harmful addictions, tending to your physical and mental well-being, fostering healthy relationships, and making responsible decisions that reflect your dedication to personal growth. Living amends demonstrate through your actions that you’re not only sorry for the past, but committed to a better, more wholesome future. This ensures that your journey toward recovery is both sincere and enduring.
Direct amends are made in-person, face-to-face. This is usually the most meaningful way to make amends and it can be an emotional experience for both parties. Prepare for direct amends ahead of time by reflecting on what you want to say and practicing active listening. A sincere, heartfelt apology and taking responsibility for your actions can make a big difference in your relationship with others.
Sometimes, making direct amends in person isn’t possible or the best choice for you or the person to whom you’re apologizing. In these cases, a written amendment may be better. In a thoughtful letter, you can apologize, recognize the hurt you’ve caused, and express your dedication to making amends. It’s important to maintain a sincere and concise tone. In your message, you can make it clear that you don’t expect forgiveness but simply wish to convey that you recognize your mistakes and genuinely want to make amends. This way, you can take responsibility and offer an apology, even when meeting in-person isn’t possible.
Another type of amendment, when a direct one is not advisable, is called a symbolic amends. This type of amends allows you to express your desire to take accountability for an action even if you can’t directly apologize. Symbolic amends allow individuals to address past wrongs in a meaningful way, which could involve:
- Charitable acts: Engaging in acts of kindness or charitable contributions in the name of the person you’ve harmed or helping the community or cause that person cared about can be a way to make amends.
- Creative expression: Creating artwork, poetry, or other creative works to reflect your remorse and commitment to change may be therapeutic to you and others.
- Spiritual connection and remembrance: Reserve time for meditation, prayer, and maintaining a connection with the memory of a departed loved one as if they are still beside you.
- Writing in a journal: Sometimes, you may not be able to send a letter to a person you’ve harmed. In this case, you may still write in a personal journal or a letter to the person as a way to express your remorse.
How Can Making Amends Benefit Both You and Others?
Making amends is a process that can have a profound impact on both you and the person you’ve harmed. It can benefit both you and the other person in several ways:
- Personal growth: Making amends allows you to take responsibility for your actions and commit to positive change, promoting personal growth and self-improvement. Simuilarly, address past conflicts may help others move on too.
- Healing: For the person you’ve harmed, your sincere amends can provide a sense of closure and healing, acknowledging their pain and showing your concern for their well-being.
- Rebuilding trust: Making amends can be a crucial step in rebuilding trust within damaged relationships. Your commitment to change can gradually rebuild trust over time.
- Emotional release: The amends process can be emotionally cathartic for both parties, providing an outlet for expressing remorse and potentially allowing the other person to find closure.
- Reducing resentment: Making amends can reduce resentment and anger, making it easier for both parties to move forward with fewer emotional burdens.
- Promoting forgiveness: Your efforts can pave the way for forgiveness, offering a liberating experience that brings peace and closure to both you and the other person.
- Sobriety support: For individuals in recovery, making amends can strengthen your commitment to sobriety by addressing past mistakes and striving for a healthier, more responsible life.
Navigating Challenges in Making Amends
Sometimes, your attempts to make things right may not go as planned. If you find it hard to make amends, you’re not alone. Many find that it can be emotionally tough. Seeking support from your sponsor, a trusted friend, or a counselor in your recovery program is a wise first step. Talking about your difficulties with someone who understands the amendment process can offer valuable guidance and emotional support.
Take time for self-reflection to explore the root of your struggle with amends, whether it’s fear, shame, or uncertainty. Be patient with yourself; making amends is a gradual process, and rushing it isn’t necessary.
If direct amends are too daunting, consider starting with a written letter. Regardless of the other person’s response, remember that making amends is mainly about your commitment to change and personal growth. The journey to healing and growth may have its challenges, but with time, support, and self-compassion, you can work through these difficulties and continue your path to recovery. Additionally, don’t forget to find AA meetings in your area to connect with others who can provide valuable support on your journey.
How Does Step 9 AA Relate to Other AA Steps?
Step 9 relates closely to several of the preceding AA steps. By admitting your wrongs to another person (Step 5) and becoming willing to make amends (Step 8), you’ve set the stage for actually taking action.
In Step 4, you made a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of yourself. Step 9 gives you the chance to openly admit to others the exact nature of the wrongs you listed in Step 4. This is a humbling but necessary process. By honestly and sincerely admitting your faults, you take responsibility for your actions and begin to repair relationships.
Committing to Personal Growth
The preceding steps 1 through 8 represent a transformation of character and spiritual growth. Step 9 demonstrates that you are enrolling to make right the mistakes of your former self. You have gained the humility and courage to face those you’ve wronged, make amends, and start rebuilding. This change in who you are and how you live your life is the ultimate goal of AA’s 12-Step program.
Making amends is challenging, but with the willingness and moral support gained from working the steps, you can find the strength and guidance to complete this important act of recovery.
Your Path to Recovery Starts At Crestview Recovery
If you or someone you love is grappling with a substance use disorder, help is available. Crestview Recovery is your dedicated partner in this journey to recovery! We offer a range of support, addiction treatment options, and a compassionate, understanding team of professionals. At Crestview Recovery, our commitment is to guide you toward a brighter, healthier future. Our comprehensive approach to healing and sobriety ensures that you’re not alone in this process. Together, we can overcome the challenges of addiction and work towards a life of lasting well-being and fulfillment. Contact us today!
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.