If you are wondering what does “making amends” mean, you are not alone. An essential part of addiction treatment and recovery is learning how to offer amends for your actions and behaviors while you were under the influence of various substances.
What Does “Making Amends” Mean Exactly?
Since it is impossible to travel back in time to undo the wrongs you caused your family and friends, the best thing you can do is to take ownership of those wrongs through amends. It is important to understand the difference between amends and apologizing to those you hurt.
Making an apology simply involves telling the person you hurt you are sorry. The inflection in your voice should convey remorse and show the other person you acknowledge your behavior hurt them in some manner. However, it does not let the person know you have changed your behaviors.
When you offer an amends, it means not only do you apologize to the individual you hurt, but you also demonstrate to them, either directly or indirectly, that you have also changed your behaviors. Amends translates to aligning your words with your actions while learning in recovery how to live by a new set of principles to maintain a sober lifestyle.
Where Does the Term Come From?
Often, the term amends in recovery comes from following a 12-step program. Specifically, steps 8 and 9 deal directly with the amends process of acknowledging those you have hurt, harmed, or wronged as a result of your substance use disorder.
For instance, step 8 requires you to make a list of everyone you hurt that you sincerely want to make amends with. Then, in step 9, you attempt to make direct amends with as many people on your list as possible.
However, it is worth mentioning other types of recovery programs will also include the amends process at a specific point in your program.
How to Start the Process
There are several different ways you can offer amends to someone you hurt. If you take the direct approach, you make an effort to contact the person and repair the damages you caused. On the other hand, if you take the indirect approach, you focus on changing your behaviors and allow these changes to demonstrate your efforts.
Direct Amends Examples
- You stole property or money from a family member or friend. You would apologize for your actions and admit your wrongdoing. Then, you would offer to replace the property or pay back the money.
- You deliberately destroyed a family member’s or friend’s property. You would admit how you were wrong for doing so, make a sincere apology, and offer to repair, replace, or reimburse them monetarily for the property you damaged.
Indirect Amends Examples
- Your substance use caused you to be an absentee spouse or parent. You apologize to your spouse or child and how not being present was irresponsible behavior. To demonstrate your amends, you would show how you have changed your behavior by being present for your spouse or child, keeping any promises you make, and showing them you can be reliable.
- You stole property or money from a family member or friend who does not want any contact with you. Since you cannot make direct amends with them, you could donate to a charity in their name or reimburse them by sending them the money your stole or cash for the property’s value.
5 Tips on Making Amends in Recovery
- Decide how you intend to offer amends with the individual directly or indirectly.
- Consider sending them a letter when they are not willing to meet with you in person.
- Never force someone to resume a relationship with you when they are not ready or willing.
- Never force someone to allow you to offer an amends and apologize.
- Commit to working your program and aftercare plan after your substance misuse addiction treatment.
The Importance of Amends
While not everyone you wronged will be open to listening to your amends, you must still make an effort. Amends is part of your substance misuse recovery. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge how your actions and behaviors impacted those around you.
The amends process either directly or indirectly, it reinforces positive behaviors, your willingness to take ownership of your actions, and any resulting consequences.
What Does a “Living Amends” Exactly Mean?
You will most likely hear the term “living amends” from your sponsor or peers during your recovery. This term refers to your desire to change how you live and your behaviors to remain committed to living a sober lifestyle.
Learn How to Make Amends in Recovery in Atlanta
When you struggle with substance use addiction, taking the first steps to learn how to begin the amends process is admitting you need help and starting your recovery journey. At Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta, we are here to help you take those first steps with our custom-tailored treatment programs that teach you how to make amends and live a sober lifestyle.
To learn more about our addiction treatment programs, please feel free to contact our admissions team today!