Alcohol use disorder, or alcohol addiction, can be described as the inability to stop or control the use of alcohol despite the dire consequences that accompany it.1 This disorder can be treated through various services and programs.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a program that helps those who are battling alcohol addiction. AA has 12 Steps which help provide the tools necessary for one to achieve and maintain sobriety. The step we will explore in this article is Step 9.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous?
- How to start and work Step 9.
- How to follow Step 9.
- What if I have concerns about Step 9?
- Finding help for alcohol use disorder.
What Is Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous?
Step 9 of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”2 This step provides an open portal for communication that can lend and lead to amends among those hurt. This step is a continuum of Step 8 and takes the action a step further, which is, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”2
The list one makes in Step 8 will be used as a foundation and springboard for Step 9 of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. In the evaluation of this list, we will notice that the classes of people we harmed will be further characterized. These classes of people are: those we will approach as soon as possible, those we will make only partial amends with, and those who should be deferred to a later time.2 Once you have identified these classes of people, you will be ready to begin Step 9.
Unfortunately, one of the consequences of alcohol addiction is that we hurt those whom we love and care for. As a result, we must take responsibility and action to correct the wrongs and ill behaviors we have inflicted on others. In Step 9, we take responsibility for the well-being of others.2 The action of taking responsibility for the well-being of others is a significant step in the direction of alcohol recovery. It places a face on how our alcohol addiction has directly affected those around us. As a result, it often compels us to take Step 9 as a serious matter.
Alcoholics Anonymous states that several qualities are required for Step 9. These qualities are: good judgment, careful sense of timing, courage, and prudence.2 Each of these qualities will allow the person to fully embrace and enact the ideals and practices of Step 9.
As it relates to good judgment, we must identify how we will make our amends. Amends can be either indirect or direct. Direct amends are loosely identified as going directly to the people we have harmed and admitting the damage we have caused due to our drinking. This type of direct amends is sometimes the most difficult, and good judgment suggests that we take our time.2 A careful sense of timing is pivotal.
Courage is a significant quality of Step 9. We will have to muster all the courage we have, go straight to the people we hurt, and present all the facts of how we hurt them due to alcohol misuse.2 In displaying prudence, we must be careful how we approach those we hurt. The hurt may have been small or significant; however, we must proceed with caution in our attempts to make amends.
How to Start and Work Step 9
Step 9 in this process can seem daunting or scary once one is fully aware of all the components. The best way to start and work Step 9 is to simply begin. There are 4 ways in which we can start this process.
First, place each person into different classes. Some classes will be more painstaking than others due to the amount of harm that was inflicted. It may be helpful to address the classes with minimal impact first. To be most effective, be open and honest.
Second, consider timing. Just like your addiction may not have happened overnight, healing may not be either. It is best to pace yourself and take your time.
Third, face the matter and issue directly. You can accept the fact that your addiction indeed inflicted harm, which will open the door for Step 9 to be more effective as well.
The last strategy to help you start and work Step 9 is to realize that you are human and that you made mistakes that you should forgive yourself for.
How to Follow Step 9
Step 9 is a thorough, comprehensive step on the path to sobriety. This step not only involves your personal path to overcoming alcohol addiction, but it incorporates those who have been affected as well. To follow Step 9, you should not linger to start this process. This is one of the more difficult steps, but it is pivotal to overcoming addiction and achieving sobriety.
Another helpful strategy for following Step 9 is to discuss any tough issues with your sponsor or spiritual advisor. These people are available to help you navigate Step 9 and can provide an added layer of support.
You can also follow Step 9 by making generous amends that are not overbearing. These amends should not be an overarching goal that is unobtainable but one that both you and the other party can come to good terms with.
What if I Have Concerns About Step 9 of AA?
Step 9 can lead to a conundrum of both asked and unasked questions, different dilemmas, and other various issues. This can create an area of concern or misunderstanding with those who you are making amends with. These concerns and issues can be addressed in various ways. In the first sitting, make sure you only make a general, necessary admission of the defects caused by our alcohol abuse.2
Many people err in this step by divulging too much information too soon or by divulging the wrong information based on the different classes of people. In addition, we can take time to actively listen and follow up any concerns the other party may have with questions. If you feel like you are becoming overwhelmed in doing this, politely stop and consult your spiritual leader or sponsor for further direction or guidance.
Finding Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
The rehab process for alcohol treatment comes in many different forms due to the varying natures of alcohol abuse. People must first admit they have a problem and evaluate which treatment option is better suited for them.
You are encouraged to consult with a doctor or addiction professional to help identify the best alcohol addiction treatment for you. Treatment settings can include inpatient or outpatient care; inpatient treatment involves staying at the facility during treatment and outpatient treatment allows patients to live at home during treatment.3
These treatment facilities will have licensed professionals who can assist you on your road to recovery and sobriety. Behavioral therapy is an effective tool and generally includes:3
- Development of skills to help you stop drinking.
- Assistance with building a strong support system.
- Help in reaching your goals.
- Coping mechanisms for triggers that may cause you to relapse.
Alcoholics Anonymous has several resources available to assist you with your alcohol addiction treatment. On their website, you can find information such as meeting locations and times, as well as AA literature, including additional details about the 12 Steps of AA.
The benefits of rehabilitation and treatment of alcohol use disorder are far-reaching. Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12-Step program can provide the tools you need to be successful. To locate inpatient and outpatient programs for alcohol addiction, you can use our online directory. To find out more about what your health insurance provider covers, reach out to us to instantly verify your insurance. Call .