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

What Is Step 9 of 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 Alcoholics Anonymous 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 Alcoholics Anonymous Step 9?

  • 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.

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.

What Are Some Myths About This Step?

  • You have to disclose every detail of your mistakes.

Full disclosure 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.

Perspectives on Step 9

By Dominica A.

“Step 9 gives us the chance to act on courage as we make direct amends to those on the list we created in Step 8.

I admit that I struggled with a lot of anxiety and fear when making amends. I feared that I would get a harsh reaction, have to contend with my own emotions kicking in, or experience flat-out rejection from various people.

Still, I went ahead and did my best at making amends, trusting that the outcome would be beneficial to all.”

Not Everyone Will Be Receptive

“Not everyone that you’ve hurt will be ready to hear your apologies.

You may have really hurt someone over and over, and they may not feel like forgiving you. They may think that you’re full of B.S.

It’s all right. Though it may be uncomfortable for you, you can still apologize sincerely and then let it go.

As you take responsibility for your past and make your apologies, you’re stepping it up for yourself, forgiving yourself, and letting go of shame, guilt, and more. You are only responsible for yourself once your heartfelt apology has been made.

Also, it’s all right to skip direct amends when you feel that doing so would further hurt someone. For example, if your ex is still boiling with anger at you for plenty of damage done, and you feel an apology may cause them further injury, perhaps you could give him/her more time to cool off.

There may also be instances of sexual matters that you aren’t sure you should come clean about or make amends for. If you’re questioning the matter, you can always discuss this with your sponsor/mentor.”