02 Oct Learning to Make Amends
Whether you have been following a 12-Step program for your addiction recovery or not, making amends in recovery is an important step toward being well again. In the 12 Steps, Step Eight involves making a list of people you have wronged and Step Nine is to make amends to those people. Making amends is more than a simple apology. It means striving to make things right, to repair the damage you have done. Doing this isn’t easy. It takes willpower, courage, time and patience. But once you have completed your amends, you will never regret having done it.
Facing Those Closest to You
For those wondering how addiction affects families, the answer is simple: severely. As an addict you most likely hurt the people most important to you: your family members. This may be your spouse, children or parents, but theirs are the most important amends you will make. Devote most of your time and attention to making amends to your family. Start with an apology and then take action-oriented steps to make things better. This may mean repaying debts, even if slowly, spending more time with your children, attending therapy with family members, or doing nice things for those you love.
Be Patient with People You’ve Wronged
As you start to face the people you harmed in the past and formulate your apologies, you may be surprised to find that not everyone is receptive. Some of the people from your past will even be downright hostile. They may want nothing to do with you. Your drug addiction treatment program should have prepared you for this possibility, but remember to be patient. You can’t force anyone to accept your apology. Also remember that making amends is not about checking people off your list. It is about making a difference. If it is too painful for someone to face you, you won’t help by pestering. State your intention to make amends and then be prepared to wait.
Follow Through with Your Amends
One of the biggest things you damage as an addict is the ability of others to trust you. If you truly want to make things right with the people you have harmed you have to show that you are now trustworthy. The best way to do this is to follow through with what you have promised them. If you have said that you will do something, do it and do so in a timely fashion.
In making amends, recovery can be considered one step closer to true healing. Making amends is both for you and for the people you have hurt. It will be difficult to do, but as you begin to make people feel better and as more people accept your apologies, you will be amazed at how much better you feel too. Forgiveness and making amends are powerful. Don’t skip this important step in your recovery and don’t skimp on it. Take your time, be patient and follow through.
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