According to step nine of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, it is important to make amends to anyone you may have wronged during active addiction. An exception to this step is if making amends would cause injury or harm to the person or others. Once you learn to accept what your addiction to alcohol has done to others, you can apologize and ask for forgiveness for those behaviors. Being held accountable for your past actions and trying to correct your mistakes can help you move forward in your recovery–and help you learn to forgive yourself.
Ways to Make Amends
To make amends, you must be able to let go of any wrongs from your past so you can keep moving forward in your life. There are many ways to make amends, such as:
- Being by making a list of those you have harmed or wronged. Step 8 advises making a list of all persons you have harmed and be willing to make amends to them all. You may want to make a list of these people in your journal so you can reflect and keep a record of your efforts to make amends to each of them.
- Replace any items that you may have damaged. Maybe you broke something during your addiction and now want to fix or replace it as part of your amends.
- Pay back those who helped you. You can make amends by repaying those you stole money from (or those from whom you borrowed money but never paid it back).
- Make a genuine apology. Make amends to those you hurt by offering them an apology for your wrongdoing. This can be done in person, in a text or email, or even in a hand-written letter. Letting those you harmed know you are sorry can improve the relationship with the person and help you both move forward.
Tips for Making Amends
When you make amends, be sincere and honest. Several approaches can make the process less stressful and more meaningful, such as:
- Be as specific as possible when explaining what you did. You may want to mention a specific incident so that the person knows you truly understand what you did and how it affected them personally. Don’t just say I am sorry for everything and leave it at that. The person may think you don’t see the severity of your behavior and are just apologizing because you have to.
- Ask the person you harmed what you can do to rebuild their trust and improve your relationship. They may require certain things from you in order to move forward.
- Speak from your heart. Don’t be afraid to let the person see your emotions. If they see you are also hurt by your past actions, they may be more open to your apology.
- Actions speak louder than words. In addition to verbally apologizing, show the person you are working on making improvements. Over time, they will see how serious you are about your recovery and appreciate the person you are becoming.
- Forgive yourself. Even if the other person does not forgive you, you can still forgive yourself. In order to move past guilt from wrongdoings, you must learn to let go of the past. Showing yourself kindness can help keep you on the right path.
- Understand that not every person will be willing to accept your apology. This does not mean it is not worth trying. The person you hurt may have cut ties with you – even though you are now sober. Give them the time and space they need.
Contact Our Indiana Recovery Center for Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, Anabranch Recovery Center can help. We can put you on the path to a lasting recovery and design a program to meet your individual needs. To find out more about our residential or detox programs, contact our team of professionals by filling out our confidential contact form online.