Amends include anything reasonable you can do to correct the damage and neglect you discover are your responsibility in Step Eight, where you list all the people you have harmed. The harm includes damage, where your actions actually hurt someone, and neglect, where you denied your love, respect, and other resources to family members, friends, employers, and others.
Damage includes harm through actions, manipulation, gossip, and anything else you do or say.
Neglect includes the time you spend obsessing about your addictive substance or activity instead of being with your family, the emotional contact that becomes difficult or impossible due to your addiction, and the lower quality job you give to your employers.
You may ﬁnd that the person you have harmed the most is yourself. Recognizing the need to make amends to yourself can lessen self-pity and self-hatred.
Need for Amends
Amends give you a sense of self-worth, which can get lost in addiction. They can relieve your fear of being “found out” as a fake, a gossip, a dishonest person, or an incompetent.
Resistance to Amends
You may have had bad experiences in your family of origin with honesty and with owning up to your mistakes. You may harbor resentments and not want to let them go. “After all, they hurt me worse than I hurt them.”
You may be afraid of how people will react to your amends, fearing that they will not like you if you tell them what you’ve done. You may also be afraid of the ﬁnancial or emotional cost of making amends.
By the time you focus on Step Nine and start making your amends in earnest, you probably have already made some amends and experienced the strength your Higher Power or Program has to offer in working the Steps. Use it.
Addictive behavior results in shame and guilt for many addicts. Making amends is part of the healing process of recovery. You regain a sense of self-worth and self-respect by acknowledging your need for forgiveness for harm you may have caused others. This allows you to feel forgiven by your Higher Power and yourself, whether or not others forgive you. Making amends also eases the way for you to forgive others when necessary. See the module on Forgiveness.
Updated 11 Sep 2015
Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.