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Making Amends as Part of Your Addiction Recovery

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Anyone in recovery will tell you all 12 steps are hard but not impossible. It’s like being in line for a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs, loops, and possible backward decline; all you have to do is step on and strap in for the ride. The first seven ups and downs get your blood pumping, and you are over halfway down with the ride that will change your life, but then the ride slows down for more people to get on, except they aren’t facing the end like you. Instead, they’re facing you. They might be sitting there patiently, hurt or angry, or just waiting for this part to end so they can get off and let you finish. Steps 8 and 9 in recovery are making a list of people you’ve hurt and making amends to all of them. Just like the recovery rollercoaster you’re already on, this one might not go the way you think it will, but like the seven steps prior, you can see the end and know that whatever comes of it is worth it to you, your health, and those who are in your life.

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What Does It Mean to Make Amends?

While you are halfway through the 12-step recovery process, it doesn’t mean it will get any easier. While you’ve already done so much self-reflection at this point, now it is time to show those you’ve harmed in your addiction that you are trying. In Steps 8 and 9, you list everyone you’ve harmed and make amends to them. What is the difference between offering an apology and making amends? While an apology is just that — you apologize to someone you’ve hurt — making amends is taking action to right the wrong you’ve done.

The Importance of Making Amends in Recovery

Addiction in any form can look different to different people, including to the person with an addiction and to their family, friends, and co-workers — but at some point, any of those relationships will get hurt. The first seven steps focus on taking accountability for your addiction, but to fully mend any damage done by addiction, making amends is needed.

Whatever the situation, there are going to be people in your life who will feel guilt for not seeing the signs of addiction sooner, or perhaps they did and offered to help, and you turned them down. Taking personal accountability for your past actions and mending those relationships will lift some of the guilt weighing you down and show that you’ve grown and taken your recovery seriously. Your relationships might not be fixed instantly, but it will show those on your list that you want to work on your recovery and heal the relationships as well.

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Steps to Making Amends

There is a reason why Step 8 in recovery is only to list those whose relationships you want to amend by identifying the people in your life who were pushed aside due to addiction and how you hurt them. Was it saying you would show up to an event and didn’t? Was it asking for money and lying when you said you wouldn’t use it for your addiction? This is a big step for anyone in recovery; doing it with a counselor or your sponsor who has already gone through this step can help guide you in what to say or how to go about your amends. 

There are different ways to make amends and heal your relationships:

  • Reach out directly and talk face-to-face.
  • Write a letter.
  • Talk on the phone.

While saying sorry might be like putting a Band-Aid on the wound, actions speak louder than words. If you constantly said you would do something for someone and you let that fall through because your addiction came first, show up and be present. Remember, these are just steps in your recovery. Every step is important, but this might be one of the most important. Who you have behind you in the long run of recovery will help you stay sober.

Gage Whisman
Gage Whisman
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Bethany Breaux
Bethany Breaux
All of the staff and nurses at resurgence are phenomenal. They helped me a lot and gave me hope at my lowest.—the two different times I came to both of their locations. Costa Mesa and riverside locations. I would recommend their programs to anybody! That is if you are looking for detox AND 30 day residential, not just detox. Thank you Resurgence! <3
Hailey Thomas
Hailey Thomas
Milton! This was my first time in treatment and I was pretty scared but muse and staff have been incredible. Steve(o) and corrina have been my favorite! Make sure to go on the outings with Steve(o) he’s amazing! Corrina spoiled me and is easy to talk to! All the staff is amazing if I’m being honest! They work hard and always have our backs ❤️
Naomi Wheeler
Naomi Wheeler
I would recommend this place to everyone I know. This is the best treatment experience I have ever had. I was treated like family and all the staff was caring and amazing. I was able to work on myself from the inside out. I love Resurgence.
Tina Cargle
Tina Cargle
Best decision we ever made. The staff is amazing. Thank you to Lauren Sean and Nikki you guys are great we really appreciate all you did at Riverside thank you to all those amazing staff as well Derek Tyler Sarah Oscar and April you guys did so much for us we can never repay you. However you guys pick your staff continue because you guys do a great job once again thank you and mad love
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KeeMo Beltran
I was totally scared of this unknown experience to a new state to take care of my health situation but the ppl and place was totally inviting and caring and helped me with my first steps to my new beginning to find myself. I'm so grateful to the Balboa staff and their patience with having said this I thank y'all so much...
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Samantha Lake
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Challenges and Considerations

Step 9 suggests contacting those who are hurt unless doing so would harm the person. You might already know if some relationships are unfixable at this point in your recovery. Whatever the reasons, either you or the person on your amends list has already stated that nothing you could do would regain their trust. Reaching out to someone who has said this or that they wish for you not to contact them would cause them emotional distress and perhaps even set their path of healing to derail.

Up to this point in your recovery process and steps, you have focused solely on yourself and taking responsibility for your actions. Still, it’s time to let others in on your recovery, and facing that might not be simple. Dealing with rejection from a loved one is never easy, especially when you want to apologize for your actions while in the grip of your addiction. Addiction affects more than yourself; while you might not be able to understand why someone doesn’t want to hear from you now, remember that you still have three steps left of the recovery program but a lifetime to live by those 12 steps.

The Emotional Impact of Making Amends

Just like apologizing and making amends to those you’ve hurt while in your addiction, there is one more person you should face: Yourself. Living a sober life won’t be easy, and you’ll be told by those helping you on this journey that you will recover in one way or another for the rest of your life. Forgiveness from others will look and feel different, but facing yourself in the physical or metaphorical mirror and asking for forgiveness will lift some of the weight of guilt and shame.

While you are going through the 12 steps of recovery, it’s completely normal to feel shame and guilt for what you’ve done to yourself and those you love. But once you make amends, you need to make those same kinds of amends with others. If you say you will show up for your family and friends, remember to start showing up for yourself. While you can’t rewind what you’ve done to yourself and others, you can begin to change the narrative of your life going forward with your recovery.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Support and Guidance in Making Amends

There is no “I” in team — and this goes both ways for active addiction and your recovery. Having a support team helping you stay on the path of sobriety will make you less likely to relapse; having a professional and peer group will make you feel less isolated when you feel like you’re scraping the barrel and no one in your personal life knows what your are feeling or going through. A peer group will be there for you, encourage your sober life, celebrate your victories no matter what the size, as well as call you out when you’re not being truthful with yourself. A therapist will have the tools and resources you might need to keep living sober, help you through whatever mental blocks are standing in your way, and be there to listen to whatever haunts you from your addiction and not judge you. 

How Resurgence Behavioral Health Can Help

While there are many different treatment programs, Resurgence Behavioral Health has multiple options for comprehensive addiction treatment programs. We have a medical detox program that offers a safe environment to get substances out of your system, as well as treatments designed to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms so that patients can detox in comfort. The residential treatment program is available for those who wish to start their recovery without distraction and gain tools to live a successful, sober life. Outpatient addiction treatment programs are ideal for people who are transitioning from more intensive treatment plans.
What is also great about Resurgence Behavioral Health is its aftercare program. This program is there for you when you have completed your first steps into addiction recovery. In this program, clients can receive the same care and guidance they received during their first steps into recovery. If you are ready to start your road to recovery, please call Resurgence Behavioral Health at 855-458-0050, or contact us online. We’re here to help.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.


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