Addiction does not only affect the person who was in active addiction, it also affects those around them – friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. Your words, actions, and behaviors while under the influence can be damaging whether you realize it or not.
Part of recovery is making amends to those you’ve hurt. If you follow a 12-step program, this is step 9. But even if you don’t, making amends can be beneficial. Keep in mind that making amends is not the same as apologizing. When you apologize you’re simply acknowledging that you made a mistake. Making amends involves taking action to try to restore justice and repair what has been damaged.
The first step in making amends is creating a list of everyone you have hurt in some way (this is Step 8). Be honest with yourself and really reflect on things. Who do you need to try to remedy things with? Once you have your list, you can start taking action.
Tips for Making Amends Instead of Apologies
For some people you may start saving up money to repay them if you borrowed or stole money. You may replace items that were broken during a fight or as a result of your intoxication. If you can’t easily replace it, you may give them money for it.
But not everything can be resolved so easily. If you were involved in a drunk driving accident where someone was killed, you cannot bring him or her back to life. You can sign up to be an organ donor or donate blood or plasma on a regular basis. This can help save lives of others. You could also volunteer to be part of an organization that educates people and raises awareness about addiction, substance misuse, or drunk driving.
Not everyone is receptive to amends, but many people are appreciative of your efforts and that you are trying to make things right. This can be a step toward rebuilding relationships and turning your life around for the better. It will make you feel better to confront past wrongdoings and make a conscious effort to lead a more positive life.
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