The journey to a healthy, sober life is complex and involves many people, not just those directly challenging their use of drugs or alcohol. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a disease that carries a myriad of ramifications, both for those engaging with these addictive substances as well as their families, friends, and coworkers. Even as an individual successfully navigates dedicated recovery efforts and treatment programs in Hawaii, persistent feelings of guilt, shame, and more can be exceptionally prevalent, informing a person’s relationships and feelings of depression, anxiety, and more. Making amends is an important part of the recovery process, but approaching this aspect of recovery can present a number of unique challenges.
The Need to Make Amends in Recovery
Making amends is an important step in the recovery process. Those adhering to 12-Step recovery plans may realize this through Steps Eight and Nine, being “Make a list of all persons harmed, and be willing to make amends to them all,” and “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others” respectively. While these are important steps for those navigating their 12-Step recovery, those not engaging in a 12-Step program can still benefit greatly from making their own amends with friends, family, and loved ones.
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Feelings of guilt, shame, regret, resentment, and more are all common in those navigating their newfound sober lives. Making amends is a necessary part of challenging these feelings while rebuilding key relationships and moving on from the stresses of the past. Those diagnosed with SUD commonly make many mistakes under the influence of addictive substances, compromising relationships and birthing traumatic memories in themselves and others. Amends can help address and add closure to these challenges while setting each person’s eyes on further healing.
Despite the importance of making amends in recovery, it is a step that will always be difficult. It is important to prepare for making amends, both to ensure that an individual is emotionally prepared to address their mistakes in these difficult conversations and to make these amends personal and effective. Recognizing how the use of drugs and alcohol has harmed each individual as much as the lives of others is difficult, but it is necessary to take active steps toward making amends in sobriety.
Be Patient With Oneself
Making amends is a personal journey, and taking a moment to ensure that each individual is prepared to address the situation is paramount. Practicing communication strategies or writing out how an individual wants to approach the situation may be necessary.
While some may want to jump in and make amends as soon as possible, it may be more effective to take a moment to rehearse to address the situation and its accompanying feelings of guilt, shame, and regret effectively. Likewise, planning enough time for this conversation, such as scheduling it over a dinner or other meeting, may be necessary.
There are many ways that addiction can affect the lives of others. Those under the influence of drugs or alcohol may act irrationally or engage in behaviors that directly lead to emotional, financial, or physical harm to others. Recognizing not just that an individual has hurt others, but the specific events in which such harm was done, is the cornerstone of making amends in recovery.
Overly general approaches to amends can easily be misconstrued as performative. Likewise, it can be difficult to truly apologize for something if an individual themselves is not prepared to face the specifics of the event. Recounting particular dates or specific behaviors and apologizing for the action while acknowledging the exact ramifications it had on another is essential for making amends in recovery. Addressing these specifics – then continuing to highlight how an individual is prepared to change and address these specifics – is the bedrock for effective amends and paving the way for further healing.
Listen to Their Side
SUD affects each individual differently. Addressing past mistakes means listening to the other side of these experiences. It is common that an individual may address their mistakes, only to discover additional challenges they created and how truly profound these experiences were for others. Being able to listen and internalize others’ perspectives is necessary. Letting friends, family, or others talk unimpeded is crucial. It can be difficult to hear the harm that SUD can do to others, but it is also necessary for an effective recovery.
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Avoid Forcing Forgiveness
Forgiveness for these mistakes is not something that can be forced, and making amends does not necessarily mean that these relationships are ready to be wholly repaired immediately. Expecting or assuming that such amends will immediately rectify feelings of anger or resentment from a person’s mistakes can be inherently destructive.
Giving friends, family, or loved ones time to process these amends provides time for necessary understanding. Making amends and then continuing to further each individual’s own sober goals is necessary, even if difficult feelings continue to persist. Healing from the effects of SUD takes time for all involved, and allowing for this time is necessary for these amends to be effective.
Making amends in recovery can be incredibly difficult, and alumni of our Hawaii sober living and recovery center may still face this complex part of recovery. We at Hawaii Island Recovery are committed to continuing to support the best approach to a healthy life of sobriety and establishing the skills necessary to make amends with friends and family is part of our comprehensive approach to a healthy, sober life. Your time with us can be personalized to address your needs and goals for making amends while providing a supportive community of peers and professionals to help each step of the way. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.