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Freedom in Making Amends: Steps Eight & Nine

The development of an addiction depends on the confluence of several disparate yet interconnected factors. For some, prior exposure to substance abuse—especially during one’s childhood—can mean being particularly susceptible to the development of chemical dependency. Others delve into the lifestyle of substance abuse due to the environment, which can mean being in a peer group with substance abusers or in an environment in which substance abuse is common or widespread. 

Personal choice can also be a major factor in the development of an addiction since individuals can only develop an addiction after choosing to abuse mind-altering, chemical substances; abstinence is the only safeguard against the development of dependency. 

After an addiction develops, individuals experience the profound effects that occur as a result. Many people associate addiction with the effects that occur to one’s physical health with certain bodily organs and functions at particular risk of damage and, in the case of certain drugs, there’s also the risk of contracting diseases while in the throes of active addiction, such as from substance abusers who share hypodermic needles. 

However, some of the most profound effects occur to one’s psychology, causing those who develop addictions to being thinking in altered, unhealthy ways. This is why most addicts make increasingly poor choices as the continue to suffer from active addiction, sometimes even resorting to criminal activity and damaging personal relationships if that’s what it takes to sustain a substance abuse habit.

This often leads addicts to hurt the friends and loved ones closest to them whether it’s through neglect, unstable emotions, or even direct harm like theft and assault. for this reason, making amends in recovery is a vital step in the rehabilitation process.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to individuals suffering from an addiction that makes it possible to overcome physical dependency and its many toxic effects. While the addiction treatment programs that are available have become increasingly effective and offer diverse therapies, Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s numerous derivative groups remain a viable recovery solution and have been instrumental in many individuals’ achieving sustainable recovery. 

Over the course of working the renowned Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, individuals come to accept powerlessness to the disease of addiction, take a moral inventory of the character defects that contribute to their addictions, become able to admit those faults to others, and ask the higher powers of their understandings to remove those character defects. By the Eighth Step, individuals are getting closer and closer to completing the Twelve Steps and have reached the point of beginning to set right their previous mistakes.

The Eighth Step: List & Become Willing to Make Amends to Those Harmed

By the Eighth Step, one has worked through acceptance of the disease of addiction, the introspection involved in assessing oneself for defects of character and determining to rid oneself of those defects, and established or strengthened one’s relationship with the higher power of his or her understanding. Much of the preceding steps involved assessing the reality of one’s condition and the internal circumstances that allowed that condition to be so while mining the strength and conviction to correct those issues in the effort to prevent the addiction from returning once again. 

According to the Big Book, which serves as the central publication of Alcoholics Anonymous, Step Eight means listing “all persons [one has] harmed, and [becoming] willing to make amends to them all.” In short, many of the previous steps were about repairing internal damage while the Eighth Step turns to external damage as individuals prepare themselves to right the wrongs committed in their pasts while they were in the throes of active addiction. 

This is an important step as it requires individuals to objectively assess their pasts for instances when they committed injustices against others, recognizing that those injustices need to be rectified as part of one’s spiritual recovery.

The Ninth Step: Making Amends in Recovery Wherever Possible

Having identified those individuals with whom one needs to make amends and mustered the conviction to do so, the next step would be to actually make those amends. Sure enough, the Ninth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous sees individuals making direct amends with those they have previously wronged wherever it is possible for them to do so, “except when to do so would injure them or others.” In other words, one must make amends with every individual who was harmed unless the amends would cause the individual further harm.

However, it’s important to remember that the Ninth Step refers to amends rather than merely making an apology to these individuals, no matter how heartfelt that apology might be. By definition, making amends in recovery refers to a restoration of balance and fairness as a means of correcting a prior injustice; in contrast, an apology doesn’t restore the balance that was lost by a prior injustice but merely expresses regret over having committed the injustice. Making amends in recovery is a much harder thing to do and requires more time and energy than an apology, but that also makes the amends more gratifying to both parties.

Finding Freedom in Making Amends in Recovery

There is much logic in the Twelve Steps, both at the individual level as well as overall. Each step has a crucial place in the recovery methodology of Alcoholics Anonymous, but they are also arranged in a very particular order. In the case of the Ninth Step, individuals would not yet be ready to make amends to others if it occurred prior to, for instance, Steps Four and Five, which involved the thorough moral inventory and admission of character defects.

Over the course of the Twelve Steps, individuals become increasingly humbled by the realization of how their flaws and character defects fed to their addictions. The making of amends to those one has wronged requires immense humility as was as accountability and acceptance of responsibility for prior actions, which are ingrained in the steps leading up to the Ninth and serve almost to groom or prepare individuals for subsequent steps.

Making amends in recovery is a landmark moment in many ways and important not only in twelve-step recovery but also at a very personal and individualized level. Those who have been wronged will be incredibly appreciative of amends being made, which in turn releases the wrongdoers from much of the guilt that had been carried inside. As such, the Eighth and Ninth Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous afford individuals a sense of freedom by allowing them to earn a clear conscience and a clean slate as they embark on the final stretch of their twelve-step recovery journeys.

Let Drug Treatment Center Finder Help You Get Your Life Back

The Twelve Steps are world-renowned for many reasons. As an effective tool for allowing individuals to accept the reality of their addictions and the flaws that contributed to them, the Twelve Steps facilitate positive growth and profound healing as one ebbs closer to sobriety and spiritual recovery.

If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to learn more about twelve-step recovery or other treatments, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Call today at 855-619-8070 for a free consultation and assessment with one of our recovery specialists. We have helped countless individuals regain their sobriety, health, and happiness. A better life is only a phone call away.