Step 9 of AA: Make Amends With Those You’ve Harmed

When you start to embody the guiding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you’ll embark on a journey to convince the people you’ve hurt that you’re changing for the better. Step 9 of AA allows you to open the door for honest discussions about how you might have caused harm and what you can do to rectify it. In doing so, you’ll build a strong foundation for developing positive relationships with people in your life. 

Browse the AA directory to find a meeting near you. 

Understanding AA Step 9 and Its Purpose for Your Sobriety

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

After you make a list of people you’ve harmed in Step 8, you must possess the right attitude to make direct amends with those you’ve treated poorly. Then, you’ll want to categorize each amend you have to make. For instance, there are individuals you may need to confront as soon as you’re serious about maintaining your sobriety. Though, there may people with whom you can only make partial restitution with.

There may also be individuals with who you know you shouldn’t make direct contact at all. That’s OK, but you’ll want to determine how to make that amend personally, maybe with a vow to live better. 

AA Step 9 is an important part of your journey for sobriety. If you fail to make amends, these transgressions may cause problems for you later in life. For instance, you may have borrowed money and never paid it back. If this is the case, chances are the person may come back and request repayment. This problem could trigger a relapse for you. If you deal with these issues head-on and early in your sobriety, there’s no way it can harm you in the future. 

How Long Will Step 9 of AA Take to Complete?

“Good judgment will suggest that we ought to take our time.”

After attending your first AA meeting you may be eager to take responsibility for any harm created by your drinking habits. This is a good start to your journey, but AA Step 9 isn’t completely dependent on you.

You might be willing to make amends and share your defects. However, making amends is a two-way street. Sometimes the individuals you’ve harmed may need additional time. Plus, you want to be genuine in your actions. You want to make sure you’ve spent time reflecting on the harm you’ve caused and how you’re going to recompense for it. This takes time. 

Tips and Tricks for Starting and Working Step 9 of AA

Step 9 of AA may be one of the most difficult you’ll face on your journey to sobriety. Obtaining forgiveness from those who you’ve hurt as well as forgiving yourself for your past transgressions can lead to healing for all parties involved. If you can make amends, you put your past behind you. 

We’ve compiled some helpful tips for starting and working AA Step 9: 

  • You’ll want to make sure you’re committed to becoming sober. 
  • You must be able to freely admit any damage you’ve caused and apologize genuinely.
  • Avoid the temptation to argue or press your point insistently. 
  • Don’t succumb to discouragement or pessimism if you’re met with skepticism.  
  • Try not to procrastinate or skip the more humiliating and dreaded amends you have to make. 
  • Begin your conversations casually or naturally but converse in complete frankness. 
  • Summon all your courage and lay your cards on the table. 
  • Don’t harm others, if possible.

If you’d like additional assistance on your journey, you can read Step 9: Repairing the paste. This easy-to-read pamphlet gives you a deeper understanding of AA Step 9 and outlines the benefits of amends. 

You may also use A 12 Step Workbook: Al Kohallek Goes Stepping. This workbook offers additional tools to enable you to practice the principles of AA in all your affairs. See page 50 for helpful information as you navigate this step and make amends with others. 

Common Myths or Misunderstandings About AA Step 9

You Must Fully Disclose All Facts About Your Transgressions

a full disclosure may cause undue harm to the amended or other people. So, this is an exception because you want to stray away from causing any more damage. You can be honest, but you don’t have to disclose everything. 

You Shouldn’t Make Big Decisions for the First Year of Recovery

The AA program consists of 12 steps for members. Each of these steps requires members to make big decisions. Making amends is a big part of the program. Yes, members may procrastinate completing this step, but they’re not restrained from making big decisions within the first year. 

Where Do You Go From Here?

It’s difficult to remain sober when you can’t forgive yourself for past mistakes. Additionally, it’s difficult to refrain from drinking when you have individuals seeking recompense from you for things that happened in the past. These situations cause a lot of undue stress which may lead you to drink. 

That’s why it’s important to complete AA Step 9. This is your chance to apologize and make amends, so they don’t hurt you later down the line. Being able to accept responsibility for your actions will go a long way in the remaining three steps of the program. Plus, the benefits of completing Step 9 of AA are numerous. You’ll be able to fully embrace the principles of humility, forgiveness, and love.

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