Step 8:: “Made a list of everyone we’d harmed and prepared to make amends for them all.”..
Whether you’re following the 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Al-Anon, or any other program, Step 8 can be humiliating, but it can also lead to growth. Step eight involves making amends with others who may have been harmed by your alcohol or drug use. This step is a chance to grow and improve your relationships with your friends and loved ones – which will only help you move forward with your recovery.
The goal of this step is to end isolation from others. Not only is this an appealing goal, but it also targets one of the reasons people drink a lot.
12 steps defined
According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 steps are as follows:..
- We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a force greater than ourselves could make us well again.
- We have chosen to surrender our will and our lives to the care of God as we understand him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of us.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another person, the exact nature of our injustice.
- We were completely ready to let God remove all of these character flaws.
- He humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of people we’d harmed and got ready to make amends for them all.
- If possible, such people will be redeemed straight away, unless doing so would hurt them or others.
- Continuing the personal inventory and if we were wrong, admitted it immediately.
- Seeked through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, and only for the knowledge of His will for us and the strength to pray for it.
- After experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to convey this message to the alcoholics and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
How it works
By the time you’ve completed your inventory for step 4, you probably have most of your list. However, like most of the 12 steps, this is not necessarily a one-time event. It is a process that continues to unfold as more is revealed.
The list usually starts with friends and family members you have harmed and, as you recover, grows to include others such as neighbors and co-workers.
For many Al-Anon members, the first person on their list is a relative with an alcohol use disorder. As they begin to focus on themselves and make their own inventory, many find that they owe reparation to the family member in their life with a drinking problem that they blamed for all of their family’s troubles.
Categorize your list
When making your list, you need to include anyone you may have injured while actively using alcohol or drugs. When you’ve made this list (which may be longer than expected), break the names into one of four categories:
- Make amends now
- Make partial changes
- Make amends later
- It may not be possible to establish direct personal contact
When you are “ready” to make the necessary changes, you do not need to “do” anything about changes. But you have to be honest with yourself.
To make a list of the people you have harmed, you need to investigate your behavior and face it without apologizing.
As you continue building your list, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been kind, tolerant, and considerate of others?
- Did you mean spirited, impatient and selfish?
- What were your motives in dealing with family members, friends and co-workers?
- Were you only interested in getting what you wanted and not in what was right?
- Have you shown self-pity for those you thought might gain sympathy?
By asking yourself these questions you can create a more complete list of those that you can make changes to now or in the future.
I am looking for additional help
In some people, Step 8 can increase negative self-talk and emotions, and create cravings for alcohol or drugs. In this case, it is important to seek help. Whether a friend or family member, sponsor or psychiatrist, rely on someone to help you work on the steps and avoid relapse.
A word from Verywell
As with any part of a 12-step program, Step 8 requires commitment in your journey to lasting recovery. Step 8 forms the basis for all future relationships with ourselves and with others. When we can let go of our previous hurts for others, we can begin a new facet of sobriety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
You can find more mental health resources in our National Helpline Database.