One of the reasons that individuals choose to remain addicts is because of their inability to see the negative effects their actions have on their loved ones. While in the throes of addiction they can only see their immediate needs and wants they are compelled by the drug to push for regardless of who is in their way.
It is only after they have gone through detox and are in recovery that they can begin to see the harm they have caused. As they go through their primary treatment through the 12-step program they begin to realize that their behavior has affected every person in their lives.
When they reach step 8 of the 12-step program the addict will often start with listing his friends and family. It is at this point that the fog that they have been under begins to lift and they can see more clearly how they have hurt many more people. This is not a step that can be done just one time; as they continue to heal from the addiction they will soon recognize that they have harmed many more people than they could have possibly imagined.
Often they are surprised to learn who the people are on the list and how many there are. This is a very hard step to take and for many this realization can be both difficult and emotionally draining, yet without this understanding of the impact they’ve had on the lives of so many the recovery process could not be complete.
While step 8 may have been difficult step 9 is even more challenging but the rewards to be gained are well worth it. With the list they’ve made in step 8 they must begin to make amends. This act brings their actions into clear focus, as they have to face all of those who have experienced hurt because of them. It also helps to avoid hiding behind the issue because of embarrassment or any personal pain.
Making this step forces the addict to put himself on the line to compensate for his prior actions. Sometimes the person they’ve harmed is willing to forgive and forget but at other times they may refuse. But by making this step the addict leaves himself open to a full recovery.
Living amends is a way of adjusting your way of life. Rather than making constant promises to change our behavior and leave people disappointed when we fail, a living amend is a way to show people that we are ready to live in a more conscientious way. We clean up our past and try to rectify the damage we’ve caused. By making living amends we are actually benefiting ourselves more than the other people but more importantly our new lifestyle gives us more peace of mind and helps to ease the pain of guilt after the realization of the damage we have caused to other people.
Addicts can learn all of this by entering a treatment program that will help them see themselves as they really are and the way that others see them.