How to Make Amends in Addiction Recovery
Steps 8 and 9 of the AA recovery program are about making amends in your relationships. In Step 8, you take a look at where you’ve gone wrong with relationships in the past. Broken relationships are a common consequence of addiction. Apologizing for addiction isn’t always easy. It’s difficult to admit that your conduct affected others. It can be embarrassing to remember your actions and make a list of those you’ve hurt.
Step 9 is even more difficult. “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” What does it mean to make amends? How is making amends different from simply apologizing? Why would you even want to put yourself through the agony of humbling yourself and asking forgiveness when you can’t control the outcome? Making amends is important to your recovery, whether you’re following a 12-step plan or not. It gives you momentum in your relationships to make life better.
Apologize or Make Amends?
An apology is defined as “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.” It’s a first step in making amends, but often an apology is just a band-aid on the problem. The other person may feel a little better, but the apology doesn’t correct the situation. Maybe you’ve stolen money and it needs to be returned. You can apologize for the theft, but in making amends you take it one step further to replace the funds you took. When you make amends, you take personal responsibility and make repairs for the damage.
Sometimes, you can’t directly fix a situation where you’ve messed up. If you were in a drunk driving accident that injured or killed another person, you can’t throw money at the problem to make it better. Instead, you may need to indirectly make amends. Maybe you can become an organ donor or volunteer in a shelter to give back to your community. Making amends means that you back up your apology with actions that demonstrate you have changed.
Show Your Loved One You’re Worthy of Trust
Making amends means that you want to show your friends and family that you are serious about your recovery. Instead of saying, “if I can make it up to you…”, you ask, “how can I make this wrong right?” Addicts often make apologies without really changing. When you make amends, you show your commitment to being sober. You may have to wait to make amends until you’ve undergone a radical change in your life and sustained your recovery by avoiding temptation. It isn’t always easy to rekindle relationships that have been damaged by addiction. Your loved ones will need to time to heal from your actions in the past and to learn to trust you again.
What If Your Amends Are Rebuffed?
Relationships are a two-way street. You are only in control of your side of the equation. If your loved one doesn’t accept your amends, be mature enough to accept it. Making amends is challenging for everyone involved. You may have to seriously think about how you can approach certain people in your life.
Making amends also takes into account how the other person will be affected. Step 9 reminds you to consider how the other person feels. Opening new hurts can often be even more detrimental to the relationship. Maybe you can’t even talk to your loved one because you’ve been cut off. Consider writing a letter to make amends or just waiting out the time to let the person heal. Don’t force a relationship.
For more information about recovery and apologizing after addiction, contact us today. Take steps to heal yourself and your relationships after substance abuse. Staying clean is a lifestyle change that helps you get free from addiction to improve your life.