How To Make Amends in Addiction Recovery

How do you know when you need to make amends? One of the earliest signs that there is a need to make amends is the way the important people in your life start to react to you when you are around. One of the signs of addiction is exhibiting behavior that goes against your personal values and standards. That is why when you enter a program one of the practices is recognizing your behavior and how it has harmed the people in your life. Once recognized you have taken the first step.

What does it mean to make amends? It means to take the necessary steps to correct a wrong or to fix a bad situation that occurred by your actions or words. Generally speaking addicts in active addiction need to make amends to continue on with their sober journey. To start you need to make a list of the people that you need to make amends to. It is suggested that you work with a support group or therapist to help you with this process.

Direct Amends:

Direct amends means going to the person that you have caused harm to and take ownership of the harm that you caused. Remembering that it is not just an apology, 

It is an active repair of the damage done.  Making direct amends means meeting your family and or friends one on one and face to face admitting your wrongs and taking the necessary actions to repair that damage.  Direct amends are also defined by consistency.  You can’t repair the damage and then repeat the actions that caused it in the first place.  You need to make real and consistent changes.  You need to work on having people begin to trust you once again. Consistency is the key to doing that. 

Indirect Amends:

Indirect amends is the option used when the person you hurt is unwilling to see you face to face.  When you are left with this option it is important to do everything in your power to make the changes to the behaviors that led to the initial hurt.  An example of indirect amends might be – if you stole money from someone while in the throes of your addiction and they are unwilling to see you – try donating the money to a charitable organization.  If you were an absentee parent while addicted then change your behaviors and become more involved with your child. You need to do whatever is necessary to make indirect amends. You may never be able to make face to face amends with all the people that you have hurt in your addiction but it is important to try.

How will making amends help my recovery?

Taking the necessary steps to make amends helps us to separate ourselves from our disease of addiction. It makes us realize that we are inherently good people caught up in our disease. It helps us move out of the shame of our addiction, the shame that feeds the cycle of substance abuse and addiction.  It helps us strengthen and reinforce our healthy recovery.  It is the beginning of rebuilding our relationships and the trust that has been broken. 

How soon do I start to make my amends once I am sober?

Once you become sober there is no timeline for making your amends. It is however suggested that you work a program that will help guide you on this journey. Only you can determine the pace you set. There is no right or wrong time to make amends.  The important part is that you make them.


The recovery process can seem to be a little daunting. You are working on becoming sober, the fallout that your addiction has caused you and the people around you. You are taking stock of the actions you took while abusing substances and you are walking your path to long lasting recovery.  Making amends is one of the last steps necessary to have a healthy long lasting recovery.   So it is not to be taken lightly, it is a step that needs to be given thought and one that needs to be made from a sincere and meaningful place. You have started your journey, be proud of where you are and be happy to take the trip.