Making amends is more than just an apology. Addiction causes chaos and destruction, causing a moral wreckage. When addicted to drugs or alcohol you may lie, cheat, steal and manipulate to get your next fix or drink. This breaks trust in relationships, leaving them broken and a simple “I’m Sorry” can’t fix it.
If you are apart of a 12 step program it will call for amends. During step eight we are to make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. By step nine we are to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Carrying out these two steps will require the help of a counselor or a sponsor, it is a very delicate process that requires much more than a simple apology.
The Difference Between Amends and an Apology
An amend is to restore trust, to prove justice for what we have broken or damaged due to using or drinking. You are giving back to those you have hurt not only verbally but emotionally and physically. For example, if you have stolen money from friends or family member you do not simply say “I am sorry for stealing money from you to buy drugs”, instead you apologize and give them that money back.
Understanding Step Nine
In Step Nine, we are to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. This advises you to avoid direct amends in certain cases, but why?
While using or drinking you hurt people in different ways. In your marriage you may have had an affair, causing pain and destroying the trust your spouse once had for you. When making amends you not going to return home from treatment and give your spouse a simple I am sorry and expect things to go back to how they once were. In this type of situation your amend should be more indirect. You will stop having affairs, you will put your attention back into your relationship in a healthy way, proving that you are sorry by not repeating those actions.
In some cases direct amends are impossible. If you were drunk driving and killed someone you can not apologize to them for taking their life. Rather you will accept the punishment that is given to you by a judge, you will accept responsibility of your actions and offer your deepest sympathies to the family. You may also choose to become an organ donor, as you have taken a life, in your death you may be able to give life back to someone.
The Benefits of Making Amends
Throughout your addiction you have harmed people, without taking the time to make amends you will find yourself with many people to avoid. This will close off many areas of your life as you try not to come across those you have harmed. If and when you are ready to make amends it will open new doors for you in your recovery, you won’t feel the need to avoid people.