Most of us enter recovery with a long list of people we have hurt as a direct result of our actions during our addiction. The tremendous guilt and shame associated with these actions often is one of the most powerful factors keeping us sick. Therefore, the importance of making amends to achieving long-term sobriety is paramount.
While this is often the first priority of newcomers to the program, it is important to remember that the steps are in a certain order for a reason! A lot of work precedes the eighth and ninth steps, but the rewards once we have cleaned our side of the street are simply priceless.
The Eighth Step
The eighth step is simply a list of persons in which we owe an amends to. A starting point for this list is often just taking every name from our fourth step list and transferring it over to the new eighth step list. Once the name of each person plus the reason for amends has been written, the list is then reviewed with our sponsors.
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
-Alcoholic’s Anonymous, page 59
Each amend is then categorized as now if the amends is ready to be done immediately, later if the time is not right yet to make it, or never if the amends will hurt the person more than benefit them.
The Ninth Step
The ninth step is actually making the amends to the people on our eighth step list once we have formulated a plan with our sponsors. This step is certainly one of the most difficult, but much like our fifth steps, the difficulty yields the greatest reward. Often times we are shocked at how well a person we had once greatly harmed accepted our amends. Other times, the person may not accept the amends.
Either way, the importance is that we have cleaned our side of the street to the best of our ability. In situations in which a direct amends is not possible, we resort to what is referred to as living amends. A living amends may be a promise to never act in such a way ever again, to donate to a charity, to volunteer, etc. When a person on our eighth step has passed away, we often will resort to writing them a letter and burning it.
The ninth step can often take many, many years to actually complete. The rewards from it, however, are nearly instantaneous. No longer do we hit the bed at night feeling the guilt and shame that had once greatly plagued us.
No longer do we need to hide our heads in shame in public, afraid of running into someone we may have harmed in the past. The ninth step provides us freedom from the bondage of our past, and is one of the truly amazing blessings of the twelve steps and the life of recovery we have chosen.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.