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Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous: Make Amends to People You’ve Harmed

What Is Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”1

What Is the Purpose of AA Step 9?

The purpose of Step 9 of AA is to take responsibility for the harm you’ve caused yourself and others as a result of drinking alcohol.1

This step may provide you with peace of mind, serenity, and healing between yourself and others.

The Alcoholics Anonymous “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” book states:

The readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well-being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine.1

How Do You Complete Step 9 of AA?

  • Use good judgment about who and when to make amends.
  • Have a careful sense of timing.
  • Be courageous and cautious so as not to cause harm to yourself or others.

How to Select People to Make Amends With

Acknowledge the different categories of people you should make amends with:

  • Those you should approach as soon as you are confident in your sobriety.
  • Those you can only make partial amends with since further disclosure may cause more harm than good.
  • Those you shouldn’t take action with.
  • Those you can’t make direct contact with because of the nature of the situation.

What Is a Common Myth About This Step?

One common myth about Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous might be: 

  • You have to disclose every detail of your mistakes.

Full disclosure, however, may harm the one with whom you are making amends, or quite often, other people. It won’t make you feel any better to increase the burden of another.

What Are Some Tips for Completing Step 9 of AA?

  • Take your time. Use your best judgment in disclosing your defects. You don’t have to reveal them all at once, nor should you. People may take some time to process and understand your admissions.
  • Don’t say anything that will harm others. It defeats the purpose of making amends if what you say will cause further pain and suffering.
  • Don’t mistake carefulness for avoidance. Practice good timing when making amends but don’t use that as an excuse to delay reconciliation.

To learn more about your treatment options for alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder, contact an American Addiction Centers (AAC) admissions navigator at . Our professional and caring admissions navigators are here for you 24/7. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly using the form below if your health insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

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