Congratulations: you’ve finished step eight and by now, you should have a list of names of people that you want to make amends to. Logically, step nine in AA is to move forward and actually make these amends.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do would injure them or others.
Like many of the previous eight steps, step nine in AA seems quite simple – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
What Does Step Nine in AA Mean?
Making amends may not sound like it’s directly related to sobriety. On the surface, it seems like it’s absolutely a nice thing to do to apologize to the people you’ve hurt, but how does it help you recover?
For one thing, making amends will set the situation right. While you were drinking or using, if you caused harm to someone, failing to make the effort to write these wrongs may result in the same issue coming up again in the future. Depending on what the issue is, this may end up triggering a relapse.
Secondly, think of it similarly to steps six and seven, where we asked God to remove our shortcomings in order to create room for positive characteristics and situations in our lives. Here, we’re doing something very similar: attempting to make reparations in our relationships so we can attract more positive relationships into our lives in the future.
Step nine in AA is a step toward freedom.
How to Work Step Nine in AA
There are three different types of amends you can make: direct amends (where we take personal responsibility for our actions and confront the person we harmed), indirect amends (where we make up for irreversible damage through volunteering or similar), and living amends (where we show the other person – as well as ourselves – that we have genuinely made a change in our lives).
Step nine has three concepts associated with making amends, otherwise known as the Three Rs:
Restoration, or bringing something back to its normal state. This usually refers to relationships or our reputations.
Resolution, or fixing an old problem. You likely have past experiences that are haunting you in one form or another. You can resolve these experiences through coming up with answers or solutions – why this happened, how you can stop it from happening again – and finally move on.
Restitution, or returning something to its rightful owner. This can be something physical or abstract.
Again, the main point in step nine of AA is to repair relationships with other people. However, an important part of recovery is continuously reflecting on yourself. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself in between making amends:
- What kinds of fears do I have around making amends?
- Which people on my step eight list are surrounded by complicated situations?
- How am I practicing surrender while working step nine?
- Why doesn’t it matter whether my attempts to make amends are received positively or negatively?
That said, your own name should be on your list of people you are making amends to. You’ve already started this process when you began your recovery journey. By changing your beliefs, attitude, and behaviors, you are making living amends to yourself.
When Making Amends May Cause Harm
Making amends should be a positive step in any relationship. How could this possibly cause harm?
Life is not black and white, so unfortunately, things are not always so straightforward to mean that doing something with good intentions will yield positive results all of the time. Making amends may hurt others in certain situations. For example, if you’ve harmed someone and they aren’t aware of it, bringing it to their attention may cause more, unnecessary hurt. Or, if a situation involved another addict, bringing it up again may complicate things.
It’s a good idea to talk with your sponsor to figure out how to proceed with each person individually. They’ll help you decide whether or not attempting to directly make amends is necessary. Sometimes, a keeping silent is the kindest thing you can do.
Need Help Following the 12 Steps of AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps are an incredibly powerful method for recovering from addiction. The steps encourage spiritual principles like humility, compassion, forgiveness, and more, helping participants to raise their chances of making a lifelong recovery.
Here at Any Length Retreat, we use the 12 steps to help addicted men to heal from their addictions. If you’re interested in learning more about our retreat, coaching, or other resources, give us a call today at (512) 598-9968.