We’ll also include a Step 9 amends letter for anyone who wants to implement this step but isn’t sure how to. Guilt and shame are the unnecessary chains that bind us to our past. By practicing these spiritual principles we can break those chains and achieve the freedom from our addiction that we have yearned for. Life is complicated and not always straightforward or black and white. Therefore some Step Nine amends may take a little creativity and patience.

The 12 Steps help people with a substance use disorder create lasting change in recovery and reconnect with family to help cement that change. At this point in the recovery process, people who are working through the twelve steps must begin to repair strained and broken relationships actively. Alcoholics are not known for their honesty or their outstanding consideration for the people around them. Instead, alcoholics can be very deceptive, and often exhibit little concern for others as they engage in destructive patterns of behavior.

Careers – Join Our Team

These amends affirm your commitment to sobriety and focus on how you’ll become a better person moving forward. “Freedom” seems to be the word that most clearly describes the essence of Step Nine. It seems to sum up the relief from guilt and shame, the lessening of our obsession with “self”, and the increased ability to appreciate what’s really going on all around us. We may even start to think of our past as a gold mine of experiences to share with other people we’re trying to help in recovery, instead of as a period of darkness that we regret. We stop thinking about our lives in terms of what we don’t have and begin to appreciate the gifts that we receive every single day. And finally, we are very aware that in order to keep this feeling of freedom, we’ll need to keep on applying what we’ve learned while working the steps.

By proactively correcting previous mistakes, those in recovery may be able to prevent future conflicts that could trigger a relapse. For many who lived in addiction, apologizing was a regular living amends habit. Whether it was apologizing for being late for work, missing an event, misusing property or stealing money to support an addiction, expressing remorse was likely a daily occurrence.

Making Symbolic Amends

The time it will take depends on many factors such as your comfort level, the number of people hurt, and the severity of the damage caused. Just like your substance use disorder, your process of making amends in recovery will also be unique. During my drinking «career» I lived far away from my family, therefore, no amends were required. Facing the fact that omissions can be painful made this a powerfully healing step to do.

Living amends, in this event, can include making changes to the behaviors contributing to the falling out between the survivor and the person they owed an apology to. For example, let’s say a mother didn’t make an effort to escort her children to the school bus stop. One of her children is killed crossing the street on their own even after telling their mother that they were afraid to cross the busy street alone. A living amend might include a posthumous promise to the deceased child to, from now on, make it a point to walk their surviving siblings to the bus stop each day. In some cases, it may be impossible to make direct amends because you can’t locate someone or they have passed away.

Family and Children’s Programs

And some people in your life may not be receptive on your timeline. Communicating about the way you harmed others can evoke strong emotions. Each person’s experience of addiction and recovery is unique. Just like each person needs an individualized approach to alcohol addiction treatment, your approach to making amends in AA may look completely different from someone else’s. Some people will be easier than others to approach due to the relationship you have with them, how close you live to them, or other factors. In some situations, attempting to make amends may cause more harm than good.

Part of healing the past is owning the wrongs we have made towards people and places while living in our addiction. The most widely accepted way to offer an amends is to simply state, “I did (fill in the blank), what can I do to make that right for you? ” It is not a time to make excuses for our behavior instead, it’s an open door for the wronged person to express themselves. They get the opportunity to express how my actions affected them. Making amends with the people you’ve fallen out with as you’re thinking about mortality and what happens when you die is one way of finding emotional freedom and closure.