What is Making Amends?

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Addiction recovery begins with detox. This is a major physical aspect of recovery, but there is a lot to come. The emotional aspects of recovery are vital to staying sober and preventing relapse. Making amends is more than something to check off your to-do list. It isn’t just the right thing to do but can make the difference between sobriety and relapse. Your recovery is about healing the past and hope for the future. Without making amends, you are not taking ownership of the past but, in a way, denying it. That is not the proper mindset for entering recovery.

To heal, you need to focus on your strength and growth. You cannot just flip a switch and improve without addressing your mistakes and taking accountability. You need the support of your friends, family, and community. Making amends increases that external support and your belief in yourself.

What Is Making Amends?

Making amends will continue throughout your addiction recovery. Not every action you make amends for will be related to your substance use or even your addiction more generally. It could be for things you said during rehab or detox or when someone wanted to help you.

Making amends is about taking ownership of your actions and behaviors and moving on from them. It is more than an apology. You cannot simply say sorry and move forward. Making amends isn’t about regretting what has happened but how you will make it right. You can make amends directly by talking to someone you impacted while in your active addiction. You meet with them, admit you were wrong, and repair the damage. Often this will not happen in one conversation but with a regrowth of trust, understanding, and time. Sometimes the person you are making amends to isn’t open to it, which is okay.

You can’t force them to accept what you have to say or even listen. And you certainly cannot expect them to forgive you and move forward. Everyone will react differently. Some people will be more willing to reopen the friendship, and others won’t. Some people may need you to hear them out about how you affected them. Part of making amends is accepting the outcome no matter how it goes.

Alternatively, you can make indirect amends as well. This helps you deal with your thoughts about your behaviors rather than how it affects others. If you aren’t communicating with someone, you can write a letter to them. You don’t even have to send it. Getting the words out on paper can often offer you an equivalent to amends.

Benefits of Making Amends

This stage of recovery helps you control your life. It can feel overwhelming to confront people you’ve harmed with your words or actions. Overcoming the guilt that built up and was clouded during addiction can feel intense when you’re sober. Facing the causes of such feelings allows you to rebuild relationships and feel confident and healthy.

When you’re in recovery, you depend heavily on the support of friends and family. Unfortunately, those are the folks likely impacted by your addiction. Working with them to make amends is so essential. It rebuilds trust that may have been lost throughout your active addiction.

Although the purpose of making amends is to continue healing, it helps those around you. It allows you the chance to reconnect and address the past. Recovery includes healing family stress. Engaging with your family and having them be an active part of your recovery provides motivation and support that keeps you moving forward. As you move forward in recovery, making amends reminds you of how your past mistakes have altered you and what you’ve learned from them. It can help keep you on the right path.

How to Make Amends

When making amends, your therapist, counselor, or even peers can help direct you. You are repairing damage caused by your addiction. It will take time and work.

Make a List

Who did you hurt? It can be hard to relive those memories or even to remember them.

Take Responsibility

Don’t just admit to your mistakes to yourself, but to the person or people you hurt. This is hard, but it forces you to take ownership. You want forgiveness and are willing to put the work in to earn it. Don’t give a general apology about feeling bad. Be specific with your words and actions. You have to be intentional with what you’re saying and mean it.

Be Vulnerable

Making amends is about rebuilding your strength. To do that, you need to be vulnerable and honest. Let them know not just what you’re sorry for but how you plan to remedy it. You aren’t just doing this because it is on your list, but because you want to improve. You may have been under the control of your addiction, but the people you are speaking with are victims of your behavior.


Making amends allows you to accept your past behaviors, but it also teaches you to accept the other person’s reaction. They may be angry and not able to let it go. No matter how honest you are, they may not accept your apology and want to move forward having you in their lives. Let them take time to process.

Making amends is more than something you’re supposed to do during recovery. It makes a significant impact on your recovery, healing, and rebuilding of your life. Addiction affects your life and the lives of those around you in ways you may not realize or remember. Making amends allows you to take accountability for your actions and words and try to rebuild bonds, trust, and relationships. Acknowledging your mistakes lets you learn from them and heal old wounds. Being intentional and specific with your amends is the most effective method, but be prepared for all outcomes. Not everyone will be open to forgiving. You must accept the outcome and know you tried your hardest. At California Care Detox & Treatment, we advise you on all stages of treatment and recovery, so you feel your best moving forward. Call us today at (949) 281-0632.

Recovery Starts Here!

At California Care Recovery, we are here to be a positive force for mental health. We’re open 24/7 and offer same day admissions. If you or a loved one is seeking effective treatment for issues of mental health, call us now.
CALL (949) 281-0632
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