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How to Work Step 9 [Of the 12-Step Program]

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

After you make a list of the people you have wronged in Step 9, you’ll move on to Step 9 of the 12-Step Program, which is making direct or indirect amends. For many people, Step 9 is one of the most difficult of the 12 Steps because it’s hard to set things right, especially with those you’ve hurt in the past. However, as difficult as it is, this step is a vital part of the healing process.

If you’re ready to start working Step 9 but don’t know how to begin, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll offer helpful information about the purpose of Step 9 and a few applicable tips you can use to get to work.

Related post: What to Expect at Your First AA Meeting

What Are the 12 Steps?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What Is Step 9 of the 12-Step Program?

Step 9 of the 12-Step Program is: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

What Is the Purpose of the Ninth Step in the 12-Step Program?

The purpose of Step 9 is to deal with your past mistakes properly and put them behind you so you can heal and move forward in life as a changed person.

If you want to stay sober, you should take the necessary steps to make amends whenever possible. If you don’t, you’ll likely face the same issues with people you’ve hurt in the future, which could trigger a relapse. On the other hand, if you deal with the situation by making things right with friends and loved ones, you can put the past behind you knowing that you did the right thing.

Making amends might sound simple, but it’s more complicated than you think. Sometimes, a person may not be willing to make amends with you or they’re just not ready to go there. In these cases, it’s important that you recognize healing is an individual process. You can still heal and grow on an individual basis by doing your part and making direct amends.

If you’re working Step 9, you should also know that it may not be possible for you to make direct amends. Additionally, the Big Book says you should only make direct amends if it won’t injure or hurt others. So if, by making amends, you are causing more harm, then you should not do it.

Common Misconceptions About Step 9

  • Making amends means you apologize for your past behavior. Making amends with people you’ve hurt isn’t as simply as saying your sorry. Instead, when you make amends with someone, you do everything you can to right the wrong. For example, if you borrowed money from someone and never paid it back, you can make amends by apologizing for your actions and then paying them back. Or, if you damaged someone’s property while you were intoxicated, you could go to them, apologize for your behavior, and then offer to fix the damage.
  • If you can’t make a direct amend, you’re off the hook. Not necessarily. If it’s not possible for you to make direct amends, you should still try to make an indirect amend. For example, if the person you’d like to speak with is deceased, you can make an indirect amend by volunteering for a charitable cause that aligns with the person’s values and honors their legacy.
  • It doesn’t take long to work through your list and make amends to everyone on it. Quite the contrary, Step 9 can take a long time. Sometimes, you may confront past issues without having any clear resolution and that’s okay. It may take time to work through those things. Although it may not be a quick process to settle your affairs with friends and loved ones, ultimately, the best thing you can do is live out your amends and stay sober.
  • Making outward amends is enough. While making direct and indirect amends is the purpose of this step, it’s also vital to dig deep and carefully examine yourself and your past behavior. Take the time to be intentional about forgiving yourself for your mistakes too so you can move forward in life and continue repairing relationships with others.

How to Work Step 9: 3 Tips

1. If someone does not want to hear from you, don’t push it.

The point of making amends is not to just clear your conscience, and if a person doesn’t want to make amends with you, it’s okay to leave things as they are. The important thing is that you do the work that needs to be done on your end. From there, you can move forward, even if the other person isn’t ready to.

2. Work Steps 8 and 9 with a sponsor.

Steps 8 and 9 can be very challenging so it’s best to work them with a sponsor who can provide one-on-one support and guidance. As you get stronger in your recovery, you’ll likely work through Steps 8 and 9 several times and each time it will be different. Having the support of a sponsor can help you get through it each time.

3. Recognize how making amends will help your recovery.

You are not your addiction, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with feelings of shame as you seek to make amends with your loved ones. But taking the steps to make amends will separate you from your addiction and move away from the cycle of shame that fuels addiction. When you work hard to repair and strengthen your relationships, you also boster your sobriety in the process.

Related post: Why Is Making Amends Important?

Get Help to Work Step 9

Working through the 12-Step Program is a tough but rewarding process. If you need help to work Step 9, you can get help from a sponsor, counselor, or sober peers in your support group. You can also work one-on-one with treatment professionals at a rehab center.

At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we offer 12-Step-based recovery support services and sober living homes in the Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs areas. Our homes are managed by house managers and staff who oversee the home and provide support and accountability to residents.

Residents of Eudaimonia sober homes are required to attend regular community support group meetings, whether they’re 12-Step meetings like AA or NA or another type of recovery group. 

Eudaimonia sober homes also offer the following recovery support services:

Working through the 12-Step Program is challenging but help and support are available. Please call (512) 363-5914 to learn more about the support we offer through our sober living programs.

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