Step 9 of AA is the step in which the alcoholic, with the help and guidance of their sponsor, makes a face-to-face or (over the phone) amends to the person that they have harmed.
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Official Readings on Step 9
Step 9 Explained
Step 9 is one of the most important, yet difficult, steps to complete for the alcoholic. It is certainly possible that the alcoholic has already made amends to those closest to he or she by the time they arrive at Step 9. Wives, husbands, children, siblings and parents are typically the people who receive an amends first. And this usually happens out of excitement after the alcoholic’s first AA meeting or post reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. They immediately want to return home and admit the damage they have done.
Doing step 9 should be done with a calculated sense of timing, courage and prudence (as explained in the book the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”). The alcoholic should take their time and not rush to spill the worst of the beans. However, the alcoholic should not rest and procrastinate on the action of making amends to all that is needed. It is indeed a difficult step, which is why many go through the problem of delaying the need to make their amends. If the alcoholic is confidently grounded in the program of alcoholics anonymous and closing working with their sponsor, making amends to the all the people listed in their step 8 should be done in order to stay sober.
How to Complete / How It Works
The people to whom we make amends should be classified into four classes which are as follows:
- Class 1 (Immediate Restitution) – Making amends to family members closest to the alcoholic. Should only be done if the alcoholic feels confident enough to maintain sobriety.
- Class 2 (Partial Restitution) – We can not buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others, and for this is the reason for making a partial amends to another person. If information disclosed during an amends will further hurt or injure the person to whom we are making amends, we need to use careful judgement by only disclosing what is necessary to complete the amends.
- Class 3 (Deferred Restitution) – By your judgement, an amends can and should be made but the timing to do it now just isn’t right – and for that you should put the amends on hold until further notice. The guidance of a sponsor is recommended when discussing a deferred amends.
- Class 4 (Avoided Restitution) – Some people we have hurt beyond repair and it’s best to leave these people alone, once and for all. Giving a person peace and removing ourselves from their lives is a beautiful way to make amends.
Now that we know how to categorize our amends, it’s important to know that type of language that should be used during your amends. When it comes to family, we can be a little more direct about our forthcomings as they know what’s going on in the background (i.e. going to meetings, meeting with other alcoholics, etc.).
When it comes to making amends to employers and people we work with, we may want to use more discretion. We should start out our amends by describing A.A. and what we are trying to do. With this background, we can then freely admit the damage we caused and make our apologies. If we owe something to that person, whether it be something financial or otherwise, we make the promise to pay it back.