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Step 9 AA – 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide fellowship of individuals who have been affected by alcohol use disorder (AUD). Founded in 1935, AA is open to anyone who wants to stop drinking and provides a supportive environment for its members.1,2

AA is based on a 12-step program, which includes encouraging the members to admit powerlessness over alcohol, take a moral inventory, and make amends for past wrongs. The fellowship also stresses the importance of service to others and of carrying the message of recovery to other alcoholics.1 AA has helped many struggling individuals recover from AUD by working through the steps.3 

Once you or your loved one have worked through the first eight steps, it’s time to move on to the ninth step. Step Nine of Alcoholics Anonymous encourages members to make direct amends to people they have harmed, whenever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.4

In keeping with the principles of honesty and humility, those in AA are encouraged to take a close look at their past behavior and take responsibility for the hurt they may have caused. The goal of this step is ultimately to heal relationships and promote forgiveness. If you or your loved one are struggling with AUD, you may find AA helpful.4

What is step 9 A.A.? 

The AA Step 9 Principle reads as follows: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” The treatment-seeking individual has likely worked through step 8 at this point, where they’ve made a list of all the people they may have harmed as a result of their drinking.4,5

Step nine encourages them to take responsibility for making things right with those individuals whenever possible. This may involve apologizing, making financial restitution, or simply spending time with the person to repair the relationship. The goal is to make amends without causing further harm.4

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to practice this principle in all their relationships, not just those that were damaged by alcohol use. By taking responsibility for their actions and seeking to make things right, some struggling individuals may be more likely to build healthier and more fulfilling relationships with others.4

AA Step 9 Prayer 

Higher Power,

I pray for the right attitude to make my amends,

Being ever mindful not to harm others in the process.

I ask for Your guidance in making indirect amends.

Most important, I will continue to make amends

By staying abstinent, helping others &

Growing in spiritual progress.6

The first part of the Step Nine prayer asks for help in overcoming any resentments that might prevent the treatment-seeking individual from taking this important step. The second part asks for the strength to be able to make amends, even if it is difficult or embarrassing.4

The final part of the prayer asks for the wisdom to know how to make amends in a way that will help rather than hurt the people involved. This prayer is an important reminder that making amends is not about making oneself feel better, but about truly taking responsibility for one’s actions and trying to make things right.4

What Is the Importance of AA Step 9

Working through steps 1-8 may encourage the AA participant to learn how to admit their wrongs, take responsibility for them and begin the process of working on the characteristics that have caused them to act in ways that they may regret. These steps can serve as a strong foundation and preparation for Step Nine in AA which can be a key point in the recovery process for some struggling individuals.4,7

While very important for recovery, this step can be challenging for some participants, because it encourages them to face the consequences of their actions. This may be very unpleasant for some individuals, but it’s an important part of the healing process.4

Sometimes, the treatment-seeking individual has committed acts that may carry repercussions with the law, some of which may even include jail time. Other times, they may not get the reaction they may expect from the person to whom they are making amends. These situations can be difficult for some participants, but it doesn’t mean that they should be discouraged from continuing with the recovery process.4

The Three R’s of Step Nine AA 

The three R’s – restoration, resolution, and restitution – are key components of the process of making amends.4

  • Restoration: This refers to the act of taking steps to repair the damage that has been done. This might involve apologizing, making financial reparations, or taking other measures to make things right.4
  • Resolution: This is about taking responsibility for one’s actions and making a commitment to change. It’s about acknowledging the harm that has been done and resolving to do better in the future.4
  • Restitution: This is about making up for the harm that has been caused by taking concrete steps to improve the lives of those who have been affected by one’s drinking.4

How To Complete Step 9 AA

The struggling individual is encouraged to think this step through before taking action. The process may not go over well if the person making amends goes and apologizes to everyone without a plan. Here’s what you or your loved one can consider doing to make step nine easier:4

  • Think the list through: You or your loved one may find the step easier if you do your research before reaching out to the individuals on your list. It can be useful to be aware of their current situation and any possible hurt or anger they may still feel towards you or your loved one.4
  • Be respectful: AA participants are encouraged to approach each person on their list with caution and respect. It can be useful to remember that not everyone may be receptive to hearing their apology, and some may still be too angry or hurt to accept their advances.4
  • More than an apology: When making amends, participants are encouraged to remember that an apology is not the same as making amends. Some people may consider an apology to be a simple expression of regret while seeing the act of making amends as an action to correct the wrongs that have been done.4
  • Face-to-face conversation: If possible, participants are encouraged to set up a meeting with the person they are making amends to. This gives them an opportunity to speak face-to-face. If this is not possible, the participant may opt for sending a letter or email instead. This can allow the person to read the amends at their own pace and in their own time.4
  • A patient approach: The person you or your loved one are making amends to may not respond right away, or they may reject the apology outright. In these cases, participants are encouraged to remember that these individuals may need time to process what has happened before they can accept their gesture of goodwill, if they decide to accept it.4

What Are the Types of Amends

Amends can take many forms, but they all involve some form of restitution or apology. The type of amends that the struggling individual chooses to use may depend on the specific situation and relationship with the other person.4

Direct Amends 

Direct amends are those that can be made immediately and directly to the person who was harmed. For example, if you or your loved one have been dishonest with someone, you may consider making a direct amend by telling them the truth.4

Indirect Amends

Indirect amends are those that cannot be made directly to the person who was harmed. In some cases, the person may no longer be alive or the relationship may be too damaged to allow for a direct conversation. In these cases, indirect amends can take the form of service to others. For example, if you or your loved one cannot apologize directly to someone you hurt, you might donate to a cause they cared about.4

Living amends

Living amends refer to changes in behavior that the person in recovery may decide to work on throughout their life. These might include things like making a commitment to honesty or practicing patience in relationships. Living amends may require a continual effort but can have a profound impact on some people in recovery.4

What Are the Tips for Completing A.A. Step 9

Here are a few tips that might make you or your loved one more prepared as you work on this step. 

  • Take your time: AA participants are encouraged to avoid rushing through this step just to check it off their list. Instead, they might find working on this step easier if they make a  genuine effort to repair the damage, not just go through the motions.4
  • Remember that it’s not about you: This step is about making things right with the people one has hurt. It may be useful for the struggling individual to put themselves in another person’s shoes and try to understand how they may be feeling.4
  • Be honest: One of the most important aspects of this step is being honest with yourself and with the people to whom you or your loved one are making amends to. Participants are encouraged to avoid making excuses for themselves and to own up to what they did and apologize sincerely.4

Step 9 AA Worksheet questions 

The AA step 9 worksheet provides questions that can help guide members through the process. The members are encouraged to work through the questions with their sponsor and to reflect on the answers that they give during this process.

  • Have you had the chance to already make amends to someone? Did you learn anything from this?
  • Are your motivations for making amends genuine, or do you have other motives, such as gaining someone’s love and forgiveness or proving them wrong? 
  • Are you trying to make the people you’re making amends to feel guilty? If the answer is yes, why?
  • Do you think it might help you to roleplay the process of making amends with your sponsor? If the answer is yes, feel free to ask your sponsor to try this with them. 
  • What did you learn from the first few amends that you’ve made? Is there space to improve any of them in the future?
  • Did you feel the need to defend yourself when making amends? What did you do with this feeling?
  • How has this step affected your relationships with the people in your life? 
  • Did you realize you have to make additional amends? To whom? Write down their names.

AA 9 Step Promises 

These promises serve to remind the participants working through step nine of AA that a number of other individuals in recovery have overcome obstacles in their lives and that they too may achieve great things if they stay committed to their recovery. These promises may provide hope and encouragement for those struggling with AUD, reminding them that they are not alone in this fight.8

  • 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.

How to Interpret Step 9 AA: What Should I Do Next? 

When completed, step nine may help some of the participants to take responsibility for their past actions and begin to repair their potentially damaged relationships. This step may even help some participants to work on cultivating their humility and empathy. Through this, the participants may begin to build the foundation for a better future.4

As they move into step ten, the participants may find that they are better prepared to face life’s challenges and maintain healthy relationships. The Tenth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous asks them to “continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”10

The participants are encouraged to continue being honest with themselves about their thoughts, feelings, and actions. This step is a reminder that the recovering individual will likely benefit from keeping up the good work they have been doing so far and not taking their sobriety for granted.10

How Can I Get Help from Step 9 of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)? 

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a network of rehabilitation centers for individuals battling AUD or other substance abuse issues. If you or someone you love are battling AUD, you can reach out for help at AAC’s 24-hour hotline.

Through the helpline, you can get in touch with a trained navigator who can provide you with any information you may need related to AUD recovery. You can request information about different insurance plans and the requirements for insurance for rehabilitation for yourself or your loved one.

You can also ask the navigator what the typical rehabilitation costs are and discuss the different ways to pay for them. If you need an alternative payment plan, there are some options available that may be helpful for your situation. 

Potential patients may need different treatment programs that are the most appropriate for each specific case. AAC provides struggling individuals with a number of options, including inpatient treatments for alcoholism, medically supervised detoxification programs and 28-to-30-day long treatments at a rehabilitation center.

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