Step nine of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests those in recovery to make amends to all people they have harmed except when to do so would injure them or others. Many shy away from this step, abandoning their recovery process or running from it entirely. Amends might not be what you think!
What Is An Amends?
An amends is defined as a way to compensate or make up for a wrongdoing. For recovering addicts and alcoholics, amends are the way we stay committed to our new lives of recovery and do our best to make good on our promise of sobriety to those we have harmed. Neither can we go back and change the past nor can we change the way people feel about us. What we can do is take conscionable acts toward making it up to them, in whatever way seems satisfactory to them and healthy to us.
Is Making Amends Making An Apology?
Apologies and amends seem similar but are actually quite different. Apologies are defined as “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure” or “a reasoned argument or writing in justification of something”. There are a few reasons why we make an amends instead of an apology.
- Regret: Through the steps, we are given many promises which come true. One of them is that we learn not to regret the past or shut the door on it. It’s true that we might regret some of our behaviors in the past, but regret is just a feeling, not an action- which leads to the next issue.
- Acknowledgment: Amends are about taking action. By making an amends, we ask what we can do to make up for what we have done. An apology is simply acknowledging we did wrong. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
- Failure: Addiction is not a failure in life. If it is, than seeking recovery is a success. Addicts and alcoholics are partial to and characteristic of self-hatred. Seeing our past as failure means seeing our present as a failure. We are always in a progressive action of recovery. You aren’t a failure for developing an addiction.
- Justification: The primary reason we make amends in recovery is because one simply issues an apology. When we make amends, we are not justifying our behaviors. We were sick, but that isn’t a justification. We aren’t interested in the right or wrong of things. We know we were wrong in some way, or, someone tells us. Promptly, we take action to remedy that wrong to the best of our ability.
Change always follows action. Though we can’t change other people, we can change our own lives. That is the philosophy behind the treatment programs at Design For Change. Everyone is capable of recovering. For information on our treatment programs and recovery services, call (877) 267-3646.