A Study of Step 9 of the Twelve Steps

Making Amends

Group Meeting
Making Amends Is Not Always Easy. © Getty Images

Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be good medicine for the spirit and soul.

Step 9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 9 is another one of the 12 steps, that initially appears most difficult, but the rewards of putting this principle into practice can be immense. The spiritual principle involved is that of forgiveness, not only from others, but forgiveness of self, which can bring healing to both parties.

After completing Step 8 -- made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all -- the next logical step is to make those amends if possible, and the suggestion is to do so directly to those who have been harmed. By making direct amends to the person harmed the temptation to skirt the issue because of embarrassment or pain is avoided.

Simple But Not Easy!

But those making the amends find many times that the person to whom they have harmed is more than willing to accept those amends happily -- and a healing process begins not only in the relationship, but in each individual.

This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the injured party is not willing to forgive and forget. Regardless, spiritual progress for those in recovery depends upon doing their part right and making direct amends.

This step does carry a condition -- except when to do so would injure them or others.

If the act of making amends will open old wounds or create new harm, then making direct amends should be avoided. The benefit of making amends to the recovering person does not outweigh the need to do no more harm.

An Example

Here is an example: Supposed that during your drinking days you had an affair with the wife of a friend or an acquaintance that you now realize was wrong and you deeply regret.

If that friend does not know about the affair, going to him and apologizing would definitely cause more harm.

The apology might make you feel better, but it would be at the expense of causing problems for your friend and his wife and family.

On the other hand, if your friend does know about the affair, then making amends directly to him might be appropriate, depending on the current circumstances.

If you cannot make amends to him, perhaps contacting his wife and apologizing for putting her marriage in jeopardy might be appropriate, again depending on the current circumstances.

Whatever you do, you do not want to cause anyone any further harm just for the sake of working your program and maintaining your recovery.

Index of 12 Steps and Traditions Study