Making Amends in Recovery

In 2014, a woman wrote a letter to a New York Times advice columnist seeking help. Years ago, she had been living with one man while having a fling with another. Long after all the relationships had ended, her former live-in partner received a letter from her fling, living amends apologizing for his transgression as part of his amends-making for his 12-step recovery. His attempt at reconciliation exposed the affair that had until then been unknown, ruining the relationship between the woman and her former partner, who had remained friends.

At Alta Mira, we can guide you through the recovery process with compassion and expertise that allows you to develop the insight necessary to make meaningful amends. In many 12-step recovery programs, making amends is an important part of the process. For example, Alcoholic Anonymous ’s ninth step involves making amends to the individuals in your life who were affected by your addiction.

Addiction Recovery Missteps: When Making Amends Goes Awry

I arrived at Discovery broken, scared and spiritually bankrupt hurt with an unfillable void. I had no clue as to why I abused drugs & no reasoning for my unspeakable actions. I have been working the program for 25 days and everyone agrees, I’m a totally different person. Throughout this process I have learned that my addiction is a disease and with the help of my amazing counselor, Lauren & the wonderful staff here, I am on the road to recovery. My experience at Discovery has inspired me to help the sick & suffering who have been through the same hell as I have. Making living amends primarily benefits you and not the people you’ve wronged in the past.

  • For example, your behavior may have caused severe damage that is not repairable.
  • Addiction takes over your life, stealing both your joy and your time, and making it impossible for you to give back to others and live a generous life.
  • Before completing step nine, the recovering alcoholic needs to be ready to deliver their message with the best intentions, not motivated by false expectations.
  • You can suggest ways in which you can repair the relationship by preparing ideas beforehand.

Then, the next time around, make sure to make good on your word. If the harm you caused someone included monetary damage and you do not have the financial means to make direct amends in a monetary way, this does not mean that you should not make amends to that person. Your AA sponsor, therapist, or another trusted person can help you determine how best to address making amends. Often, people with substance use disorders cause harm to others, either intentionally or inadvertently.

What does living amends mean?

It is a more common experience than people think and there are many support groups and options available to help you fully heal. Landmark Recovery provides drug and alcohol recovery centers that help addicts take the first steps towards achieving and maintaining sobriety. Our therapy programs help patients to understand and cope with past mistakes with the eventual goal of leading a happy, fulfilling life that is substance free. Our caring staff is trained in residential treatment, individual and group therapy, as well as an intensive outpatient program and detox treatment. Work with your sponsor or counselor to create a list of the individuals you have harmed in the course of your addiction. It will make it easier down the road for you to address each person, as you may have been continually hurting those closest to you for years. The people closest to the addict, usually family members or anyone who lives with them, experience the greatest amount of physical and emotional pain as a result of the addicts choices.

  • For example, when you were addicted, you likely apologized to family and friends quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean you changed your behavior.
  • Having you back in their lives, at least for right now, may be too painful for their well-being.
  • At FHE Health, you’ll learn more about Step 9 and how to handle the worst of experiences.
  • Learning to communicate healthily about those feelings will go a long way to righting old wrongs.
  • They may also need some time to process their thoughts and emotions after you approach them.

When a person gets sober, it can be difficult to process the pain they have caused their loved ones. Making amends, however, can help repair strained relationships while also reinforcing recovery. Whenever possible, a direct amend is made face-to-face rather than over the phone or by asking someone else to apologize on your behalf. When making amends, you often get so caught up in your own hopes, anxieties, and fears that you forget to take the larger picture and purpose of Step 9 into account. However, in order for restitution to be a positive and meaningful experience, it must be applied thoughtfully, with kindness, and after careful deliberation of who will benefit. Amends go beyond apologies, and seek to right wrongs–not just say sorry for them. Apologies are a crucial component, but you must also show that you fully appreciate the scope of your actions, have remorse, and demonstrate that you will not create future harm.

Get help for recovery and the 12-Step Program

Well, the time came to continue my living amends to her and redo her entire master suite, including her bathroom. She came home to what she described as “a completely different house”. This ties back into making tangible reparations for your mistakes wherever applicable. Your actions need to be well-intentioned and consistent in order to be meaningful. Rebuilding trust isn’t easy but by staying strong and unwavering, you’ll strengthen those bonds again. With all that in mind, you should prepare yourself for the very real possibility that they’re not ready to hear your apology yet.

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Although you can’t undo what has already been done, you can work to repair damaged relationships with family and friends by making amends. This process is described in steps 8 and 9 of the 12-Step Program. In the 12 Steps, there are several mentions of the necessity for making amends in your recovery. Properly learning how to carry out these steps is a delicate process that is best carried out with the advice of an addiction counselor.

Lead With an Apology

Make a list of everyone you’ve made promises to that you didn’t fulfill, the people you’ve lied to, stolen from, or hurt in any way because of who you used to be, and apologize sincerely. What happens when you die is one way of finding emotional freedom and closure. But what happens when the person you need to make amends with dies before you’re able to apologize and change your ways? Unfortunately, this scenario plays out much too often in the lives of people who didn’t get a chance to correct their mistakes and past behaviors in time. Enrolling in an intensive outpatient program in Austin or Houston can provide you with the tools and support you need to successfully make amends and commit to a new sober lifestyle.

  • Your actions need to be well-intentioned and consistent in order to be meaningful.
  • Some amends are best played out as a commitment to yourself, not to engage in the same behavior that caused the wrongdoing.
  • At the Discovery Institute, we want you to know everything about addiction.
  • Sit down with your sponsor or counselor to come up with a plan for what you will say and how you will respond if things don’t go exactly as planned.

For example, someone living with an addiction may make amends by apologizing for stealing property and then make it right by returning what they’d taken. Mark has been instrumental in building healthy communities and providing access and quality healthcare to underserved populations. His service in the community is a testament to his passion and selfless dedication to the cause of eradicating addictive disorders and stigma. Black-and-white thinking that they were wrong and I was right.

How Do You Make Amends?

If you’re writing a letter, whether sending or sharing it in person, spend some time reflecting on and sharing the actions you’re taking to redress the wrong done. Feelings of guilt, depression, stress, or past memories of trauma are all triggers for addiction. This is why making amends is so important in the recovery process. But, it also allows you to help others feel a sense of relief. This will help you to build a community and establish healthy relationships with those around you.

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