The 9th step is the culmination of the Step 4 recommends the addict conduct “a searching and fearless moral inventory.” This involves coming to terms with the flaws which preceded addiction and those that came as a result of it. More we have made of our flaws. In the throes of our addiction, we may have committed a litany of moral and ethically indefensible actions. We have stolen, cheated, lied, betrayed, assaulted, or abused others. By the time we reach this step, we should be able to identify, recognize, and take responsibility for these actions.
With the realization of how deeply we have hurt others through our addiction, we understand that amends must be made. In this step, we attempt to remove some of the debris created in the past through our actions.
We complete the step when we have “made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” The book The steps are a practical guide to recovery and full spiritual life, laid out in the Big Book of AA, and used by a large number of groups ever since. By definition, a 12-step program is based on the belief that recovery is best facilitated by diligently working the steps. The steps guide addicts by ... More and Twelve Traditions tells us that we are ready to work this step when we have attained: “the readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well-being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine.”
As recovering addicts, we fear the loss of control we experienced in our darkest days. This step is accompanied by the terrible realization that we have no control over the response of the people we have harmed. We will likely have wonderful experiences and very difficult ones.
However, we must proceed for two reasons. First, this is not about us. At least not fully. It is about other people. It is about the people we have hurt in the past. However, it is equally designed for the people in your life now and in the future. By facing the consequences of our previous actions, we become more aware of the terrible cost of our behavior. This will make us less likely to take equally destructive actions in the future. Working the steps has likely made you a less selfish and self-centered individual. This step will reinforce that trend significantly.
Second, this will make you feel a lot better than you realize. As addicts, we walk around with a tremendous amount of Feelings of shame and inadequacy often contribute both to the onset of addiction and its continuation. Addicts also often commit immoral acts, leading to further shame. This leads to a destructive shame-addiction cycle. Breaking the cycle is one of the keys to recovery. More and guilt regarding our actions. As a result, we think of ourselves as flawed and immoral people. We feel like we are unable to be happy and do not deserve happiness anyway. The self-flagellation involved makes us more likely to The act of returning to the harmful behavior associated with addiction after or during a process of recovery. This often involves a return to general destructive patterns of behavior. More than anything else.
You may be reading this and wondering: ok, but how do you make amends in practice? What does it look like?
There are three general forms amends may take:
This is probably what you have in mind when you think of making amends. It involves direct contact with the individual you have harmed. This can occur in person, by phone, email, or any other form of communication.
Sometimes we cannot or should not contact the individual we have harmed. Or perhaps we have done irreparable damage and need to supplement our direct amends. In those cases, we may make amends through charitable donations, volunteering, and helping others. Very commonly the cause helped is related in some way to the damage done.
By altering your lifestyle from one centered on serving yourself and your addiction to one of The process by which addicts attempt to break the hold a certain substance or behavior has on their lives. This can refer to participation in a wide variety of methods. What they all have in common, is a sense that life is improving and the addict is regaining control. More and contributing to your community, you are making amends every day. This shows others, and more importantly yourself and your Higher Power, a commitment to doing good and avoiding destructive behavior in the future.
One problem an An individual with an unhealthy dependence on a substance or behavior. An individual remains an addict even years into recovery and must therefore remain active in recovery. Read more about drug & alcohol addiction & withdrawal at Withdrawal Info. More may run into is their desire to make amends for the wrong reasons. Sometimes we may be trying to contact the other person to impress them or manipulate them emotionally. Other times, we are angry at the individual for some perceived harm they have caused us. We may also want to offload our guilt, even when the person we wish to contact will not benefit from the process. What if they are not aware of what we did and the revelation will destabilize their lives?
For these reasons, we do not initiate the process of amends without significant input from our sponsors. It is their job to make sure we make amends in the right way and for the right reasons. This is a very sensitive process, and we need help to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves and others.
The 9th Step Promises
In the Big Book of AA, on pages 83 and 84 to be exact, there is a text on the expected results of working step 9 fully and completely. It shows the way in a very real sense, this step is one of the most important ones.
The text focuses on the process by which step 9 helps us evolve from selfish to more altruistic individuals. The promises explain that “We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will A momentary loss of focus on the road to recovery which is quickly rectified. It differs from relapse, which suggests a complete return to pre-recovery patterns of behavior. More away.” By following a path of helping others, we will find that “That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.” In the process, our outlook on life will change and we will find ourselves happier and more capable of dealing with situations we were unable to overcome in the past.
This is quite a promise. Will working one step, difficult as it may be, actually deliver these results? The founders of AA have an answer for the skeptics: “Are these unrealistic promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize if we work for them.” This is a very powerful step with the ability to significantly transform your life.
Remember that the 9th step is not over when you have gone through your list. It is a lifelong project. It involves remembering amends you forgot to make, making new wrongs right (this is what the next step is all about). This step involves a life-long commitment to make yourself a better person.