How To Make Amends With Others In Recovery


Working a twelve step program like the steps originally founded in Alcoholics Anonymous or a sister program like Narcotics Anonymous includes steps eight and nine. Step eight includes making a list of all the people we realize we have harmed in our active addiction and becoming willing to make an amends to them all. We develop this list of people by going through our fourth step inventory with our sponsor where we examine all the harms which have been done to us and how we may have acted in fear through our responses. In discussing the inventory we realize where we were in the wrong and decide, through step eight, to right the wrong through making an amends. An amends is not the same as an apology. Opposed to an apology, an amends is taking real action to promote righting a wrong. An apology, on the other hand, is simply a written or verbal explanation as to why the wrong was done. That is why in step nine we are instructed to “make such amends whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others”. We don’t want to make an amends by telling our partners we were unfaithful to them when they don’t know, for example. Thus, we work with our sponsor, our therapist, mentors, coaches, and friends to decide the best courses of action to make an amends.

Amends aren’t a single time occurrence. Step ten of the twelve steps encourages us to regularly take inventory of ourselves to become aware of our resentments and harms done. When we realize we have been in the wrong, we promptly admit it, and right our wrongs yet again.

Making amends with others can sometimes be through a conversation and sometimes through action. These are some of the ways you will learn to make amends with others as you continue to grow:


  • Written Amends: Years can pass after an incident and there isn’t an active relationship. Calling and catching someone by surprise can be disruptive depending on the situation. Sometimes the best bet is to write a letter of amends and openly invite the other party to contact you when you specifically state you would like to hear their experience and learn how you can make it up to them, if they are willing.
  • Verbal Amends: When you have the ability to talk on the phone or meet in person, it is best. You let someone know you are working the steps and that part of your program is making amends. Then you outline the situation, without using excuses or justifications. Make sure to highlight that you recognize how your behaviors had an impact. You then ask what you can do to make it up to them, and open the conversation to hear their side of the story.
  • Living Amends: A living amends is a sort of silent amends, running on the idea that actions speak louder than words. In recovery, we make a living amends to ourselves and everyone around us every single day when we make the decision to stay sober. We also do small things like maintain our responsibilities, show up to appointments with friends and family on time, and contribute generously to others.

We grow through our challenges as well as our accomplishments. At LEAD Recovery Center, we focus on helping each client discover their autonomous ability to thrive fully without drugs and alcohol. Our clinically intensive transitional living program moves through four phases, bringing each client through a journey of discovery and natural learning. For information, call us today: 800-380-0012