Step Nine

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions

The one thing that allows me to do the task of making amends is the knowledge I came by my character defects from coping with a difficult childhood. I did not know any better and was really messed up for a lot of years. I can forgive myself and be grateful I have a way out of those messed up years. The way out is by making amends.

My life changed dramatically when I realized I was brave enough and strong enough to do the right thing when it came to my relationships. I had that much self-loathing. I went from thinking I was some kind of a defective, maybe even evil, person to thinking I was a good person. I stopped being so afraid. I stopped trying to be something I was not. I accepted my humanness. I accepted I had weaknesses. I learned that being honest and forgiving of myself and others is the foundation of my recovery and my happiness.

In the OA 12 + 12 (page 75) it says that while we may dread doing Step Nine, those people who have done it now sing its praises. It is because having done Step Nine…“freed us from the shackles of our past mistakes in a miraculous way. Our lives are changed, our broken relationships mended, and the ill will which poisoned our heart for years is washed away.”

When I first read Step Nine I really got into it because I knew people who I thought needed to make amends to me. I wanted to be sure they did it right. How sick is that? No wonder they never did it. Now that I have made amends to others, I know it may be emotional for me, yet, once it is done – it is done. I do not have to go back over it ever again. That part of my life is straightened out and I can go forward. I will always remember the reasons why I wanted make the changes I needed to make. I want to recover.

How to Make Amends

The OA 12 + 12 is real clear that doing this work needs to be done with a sponsor. It makes sense to me because I am too close to the feelings that led me to the harm I have done. I need an objective person who can see what my emotions may cloud.

Here are some suggestions provided in the OA 12 + 12 of what our amends need to contain:

1. Acknowledgement of the specific harm done. We stick to a simply worded statement of the things we did to cause them harm.
2. Apologize by expressing our sincere regrets.
3. Make restitution.
4. In the situation with family who lives with us we need to make a face to face amends and a living amends – living our life in a way that does not hurt them again.

Here are some thoughts from the OA 12 + 12 about the attitude with which we will need to approach our amends:

1. We must be sincerely willing to make amends right now.
2. We must be sincere and direct in our approach.
3. We must be tactful, considerate and humble but not servile or scraping.
4. Owe those we have harmed an honest and straightforward acknowledgement of our mistakes.
5. We have to go through our fear and offer to make restitution.
6. Remember we have decided to go to any lengths to set things straight.
7. We have to take our medicine no matter what will happen to us.
8. “It should not matter, however, if someone does throw us out of his office. We have made our demonstration, done our part. It’s water over the dam.” (AA BB Page 78)

And, what we need to avoid:

1. Mentioning of things they may have done to provoke us even if we believe those things are worse than our own mistakes.
2. We avoid excuses, dramatizations, or detailed rehashing of events surrounding our actions.
3. We do not criticize or argue.
4. Do not discuss their faults.
5. Asking for forgiveness. You may receive forgiveness, however, to ask for it is to demand something from the person which he/she may not want to give.

Guide as to Whether to Make Direct or Indirect Amends

This is something, again, that we should work with our sponsor. Here are some more suggestions from the OA 12 + 12:

Making indirect amends to people we cannot find.

1. Put in writing the words we would say to them if we could see them face to face.
2. Write the acknowledgement of the wrong.
3. Write the plans to make things right with them.
4. Need to actually search for them.
5. Sometimes an honest letter can be sent.

Making indirect amends to people who have died.

1. Put in writing the words we would say to them if they were alive.
2. Read it out loud at some place that reminds us of them.
3. We can visit their grave, read our letter and there ask our HP’s forgiveness.
4. In the restitution part of our amends, we might give a gift to their favorite charity, help given to a member of their family or in some other appropriate manner.

Making indirect amends to institutions

1. If we have done something that could mean jail or losing a job, we need to consider other people who are dependent on us, and get their consent before we make amends.
2. If we do get their consent we must find a way to make amends. It is suggested we donate the stolen money (or money equivalent) to a suitable charity. Also, we need to stop whatever behavior brought us here.

When We Should Not Make Amends

As the OA 12 + 12 describes, there are times we should not make amends because “…to do so would injure them or others.”

Some thoughts about when we should not make amends. Talk this over with your sponsor to be clear about it.

1. Confessing an affair to a spouse unless we are sure they know about it. Remember, that we are making amends for our actions, not trying to ease our feelings.
2. Secret feelings like jealously or hated. It could cause harm to now tell them how we feel. This is a situation where it is appropriate to make up for those years of bad feelings by giving an equal number of years with open acceptance, respect and love.
3. Some amends require them to be made anonymously to avoid harming innocent people. However, it is not about avoiding embarrassment or might injure us financially or damage our self-esteem.

Completing our Amends – Change

“To amend something means to change it. We complete our amends for our wrongful actions of the past by changing our actions of the future. This is especially important when making amends to ourselves and those people close to us whom we repeatedly harmed by our patterns of behavior.” OA 12 + 12 (Page 78).

I understand now it makes no sense for me to make amends and not sincerely work at making a change in my actions. Making amends will not relieve me of my burdens of shame and guilt if I do not work at living differently.

The Promises – The Final Thought on Making Amends

There is a reward for all our hard work on our steps. Thousands of people in hundreds of different types of 12-Step program have come to find the promises come true for them. When the burdens of my failing with my compulsive overeating got to be so heavy, the promises from working the 12-steps were more than uplifting. They were hope. Hope is something I did not have when I am living in my addiction.

In the Alcoholics Anonymous BB (Pages 83-84) we are given these promises.

1. We know a new freedom and happiness.
2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
3. We will comprehend the word "serenity".
4. We will know peace.
5. We will see how our experiences would benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.
12. We will realize that God is doing for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

It also continues, “Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”


1. How do we examine our motives in making an amends?
2. Why is the amends process central to living in abstinence?
3. What are your greatest fears about making amends?
4. What are some practical ways that I can make amends to myself - long term and on a day-to-day basis?
5. If you've made a really big amends, a financial or other major life-impacting amends, how did you do it, and what motivated you?
6. Have you seen any of the Promises come true? Please share about them.
7. Do you have any more to share about the Ninth Step?

Leader’s Share on the Questions

1. How do we examine our motives in making an amends?

I believe if I want someone to change, I have the wrong motive. If I approach amends as a means to explain my behavior as an excuse, I have a wrong motive. When I make an amends as a means to clean up my behavior knowing my recovery depends on it, I have a good motivation. I also believe if I am sincere and have forgiven myself and them, if they had provoked my behavior, I will approach them with a caring heart and open mind. Whatever happens I can accept it because I have done all that I can do.

2. Why is the amends process central to living in abstinence?

Because I am human. I have had challenges to face. I have made mistakes. As long as I carry shame or guilt or resentment and anger, I cannot keep the pain away. I will, sooner or later, seek food to numb the pain. There is no other way around it than to deal with it. Making amends gives me a way to let those mistakes go and fix them as best I can.

3. What are your greatest fears about making amends?

That they may yell at me or treat me rudely and throw me out. Oh well, do not think that there is a real chance that would happen. But, you never know.

4. What are some practical ways that I can make amends to myself - long term and on a day-to-day basis?

These days, I have learned what it feels like when I am balanced – I am not being obsessive about food or someone or something. I am feeling strong and clear minded and focused.

When I feel out-of-balance I can usually sense what is going on. Things like needing a break or some rest because I am tired. I can make amends to myself by acknowledging each time that I have forgotten to take good care of myself and move on to do something.

Also, I can review each day for things I need to get straightened out or let go of – that is a way to make amends on a daily basis and for long term continued recovery.

5. If you've made a really big amends, a financial or other major life-impacting amends, how did you do it, and what motivated you?


6. Have you seen any of the Promises come true? Please share about them.

When I look at the promises I can see how I lived before OA – it was the opposite of all of them.

I was stuck and unhappy. I felt guilt and shame. I was never at peace. If I was not embroiled in some outright controversy with someone I was inwardly obsessing about it. I felt like a terrible example to my sons. I felt helpless, useless and trapped in my life. I was so self-absorbed I did not even comprehend how I affected others. I worried --- more accurately obsessed – about people and our finances. I wrongly thought I was a great problem solver. I really was someone who did her best to avoid conflict. It never really solved the problems.

The promises came into my life as I let go of my character defects through amends and working at changing. It was like whenever I made an amends and was really open to making a change, a promise would start to come in its place. I hope that makes sense. Today I live in almost all of them and it feels great. I am so grateful to my HP and all those who have helped me.

7. Do you have any more to share about the 9th Step?

I thank my HP all the time for the OA steps. This particular step left a big impression on me. It became acceptable to show my weaknesses and make amends. If thousands of people in 12-step programs find recovery working the steps, I cannot deny how valuable they are for me.

Ninth Step Prayer

Higher Power,
I pray for the right attitude to make my amends, being ever mindful not to harm others in the process. I ask for Your guidance in making indirect amends. Most important, I will continue to make amends by staying abstinent, helping others, and growing in spiritual progress.


We're responsible for the effort not the outcome.
I do not recover today on yesterday’s actions.
Facing my stuff instead of stuffing my face.
Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?
Dwell on the problem and the problem gets bigger. Dwell on the solution, the solution gets bigger.


Step One
Step Two
Step Three
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Step Six
Step Seven
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Step Nine

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