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

AA Big Book, p. 84
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

OA 12&12 p. 75
This step [frees] 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 hearts for years is washed away.

This is the step we’ve been waiting for! This is IT! Recovery is on our doorstep.

AA Big Book -- p. 76 - 84
AA 12 and 12 -- Step Nine
OA 12 and 12 -- Step Nine

This is the step that will bring us recovery and it will do it before we are halfway through with it. The fact is that we’ll never be all the way through, but we will have recovery and we will have it now! We’re there!

Steps 10, 11 and 12 keep us there, but it is Step 9 that gets us there.

AA BB, p. 76
Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.

In step 8 we made a list of people or institutions we may have harmed, we have examined the harm that we have done. We have forgiven any harm they may have done us, and we are willing to make amends.

Remember that our purpose is to put ourselves in a place to be of maximum service to our higher powers. For me, that’s love and service. For you it may be your God. For others it can be Goodness. Whatever it is, it isn’t us -- this is about getting ourselves clean so we can be of service.

The most important thing right now is to not waste any time. This is when recovery comes. Particularly if we have any trepidation (who doesn’t?) around this -- any feelings of restlessness, irritability or discontent are a danger to us. Remember that we have a disease that doesn’t allow us time.

Just a reminder: AA p. 24. Read this with you own name and the words compulsive overeating substituted for alcohol.
The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

I think when I started making amends that I thought it was an apology of sorts. And it is, but it is a little more than that. When we make an amends we make our wrongs right, as we are able. If we have hurt someone with our words or actions (even inadvertently) we ask what they need from us to make it right. If we owe money to someone, we pay it back; if we have taken something that doesn’t belong to us, we give it back. If we’ve committed a crime, we make reparations as we can.

Amends take several forms -- be sure to read Step Nine in the Big Book at this point. All amends require that we be ready to make them. We are willing and our attitude is appropriate. We must have a sincere desire to set right our wrongs, to have forgiven the person (or institution) for what they did, or what we thought they did, to us. And we must care about the person. To do anything else is less than honest (watch out for the character defect of dishonesty).

  • Mostly amends are direct. Sit down with someone face to face and make the amends. The first one or two will be difficult, and you should work with your sponsor, but it gets easy quickly. It may be hard if folks are out of town, far away, or far in your past, but we make a commitment to find these people, and do these any way.
  • Sometimes they are living amends. That is, to behave differently. I attempted to make amends to all of my adult children, even flying to Switzerland to see one of them. Everyone of them refused to engage the conversation -- in short, they didn’t believe me. My only choice was to let them see that I am different-- no longer making everything about me. It took a while but I see the trust rebuilding and the visits longer, and so on, but it happened. I now put my family first in our lives. These are my living amends.
  • Some amends are indirect. These amends are made under some particular circumstances --
    • When we cannot locate the person to whom we owe amends or if the amends would hurt anyone. I now meditate in the mornings. A part of that became ‘talking’ to my these people, even asking their advice, and then listening to my heart. Some people write letters that cannot be delivered. Some folks support charities or causes that were favorites of the person that cannot be found.
    • When we cannot undo the damage we may have done. I lived with a lot of guilt for something I had done when I was in my twenties, that I could not undo. My indirect amends have involved supporting an agency who helps others in similar situations.
    • When making the amends would hurt another person. This often comes up in our sex conduct. Many years ago, I had a relationship outside of my first marriage. Making direct amends for that would hurt my ex-husband and my children since I am reasonably sure he would tell them. It would also hurt my current husband. I cannot make this amend directly. Instead I make sure that I say only good things about him to my children, that I encourage their relationship with him, that I compliment him when he does nice things for the children, and so on.

Work the Step
Look at your Step 8. Work with your sponsor. Decide who you are willing to start with -- you will eventually make amends to everyone on your list, and because we are not perfect, and not expected to be, our list will grow as we go through our life. We can do what we can do right away.

Write down what you want to say. Use this 6 step format. Send the first couple to your sponsor for his/her advice. Then get going!

  1. Say what you did wrong, why you feel you have hurt them. “When I didn’t get my way I was angry or I belittled you”
  2. Admit the character defect that caused the action. “I have been selfish and really dishonest”
  3. Express your regret. “I am very sorry and I really regret that I have behaved like that”.
  4. Ask what you can do to make it right. “What do you need me to do to make this right?”
  5. Be quiet and listen.
  6. Do what you are told to do (unless it is illegal or unethical). Do not argue. If something is expensive for you to do (either financially or emotionally) you agree to do it anyway. You figure out a way. If you’ve stolen something or in someway have committed a crime, you have to take the consequences, no matter what they are. Having said that, you have to consider other factors that might interfere with your ability to care for those who love you. In this case do not make the amends unless you have the permission of those involved. (AA BB p.78) If you cannot do what you are asked, then say so. But don’t argue.

If you are asked why you are doing this, you can say it is for your OA program. Don’t get into a lot about your higher power (AA BB p 76-77) unless that is a conversation the other person wants to engage, and then don’t shy away from it. (AA BB p 77)

Here’s what you can’t do --

  • Get long and into a lot of reasons, especially about what they did to you. If you feel they have some blame, you aren’t ready to make the amends, because you haven’t forgiven them.
  • You do not need to justify or explain yourself -- just admit the action that hurt them. For the most part, this takes about five minutes, and isn’t long and tear-jerky. This just isn’t about them -- not one bit. This really isn't even about us. It is about serving our higher power.
  • We do not criticize the other person or institution.
  • We never argue. (AA BB p 77)

(AA BB p 78)
In nine cases out of ten, the unexpected happens. Sometimes the man we are calling upon admits his own fault, so feuds of years’ standing melt away in an hour. Rarely do we fail to make satisfactory progress. Our former enemies sometimes praise what we are doing and wish us well. Occasionally they will offer assistance. 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.

The Ninth Step Promises
And here’s what we get for doing this. There are twelve promises (!!!) -- I bolded them below so this emphasis is mine, but wow! Who wouldn’t want this?

AA BB -- Page 83-84
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

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.

This IS our recovery. Go for it!


  • In an overlap with Step 8 -- Did you examine your motives? Why is that important?
  • What is the goal of this step?
  • Are you afraid of making amends? If so, what is it that frightens you? Do you see fear as a character defect that we can give to our higher power? Can you trust that?
  • Why do you think Step 9 is our recovery step? Why is this central to our process?
  • Have you completed Step 9? Please share one of your amends if you are willing to do so. Tell us how it went?
  • Do you have an example of an indirect amend you can share with others?
  • Have you seen the promises come true? Go through them one by one.


Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five
Step Six
Step Seven
Step Eight
Step Nine

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