Read page 76:4 ("Probably . . .") to 83:3 (". . . anyone") and 98:3 ("Now . . .") to 99:2 (". . . parties").
The spirit of amends
Real purpose: fitting ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us (77:0)
Demonstration of good will (77:0)
Sincere desire to set right wrong (77:0)
Tact and common sense (77:1)
Helpful and forgiving spirit (77:1)
Do not criticise or argue (77:2)
Do not tell others what to do (78:0)
Do not discuss their faults (78:0)
Calm frank and open (78:0)
Good sense and loving kindness (82:1)
Patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love (83:1)
Lead the way with behaviour as well as words (83:2)
Do not urge others to following a spiritual path or bang on about spiritual matters (83:2)
Sensible, tactful, considerate, and humble, without being servile or scraping (83:3)
Stand on our feet as God's people (83:3)
Do not crawl before anyone (83:3)
Concentrate on one's own spiritual demonstration (98:3)
Avoid argument and fault-finding like the plague (98:3)
Sober, considerate, helpful (99:1)
How to make amends
Say why we are making the appointment to see someone, calling them, writing them a letter, etc. (77:2)
Be direct about the drinking and recovery (77:2, 78:2)
Mention God/spirituality if it would help (77:0)
Admit faults (78:0, 79:3, 81:1)
Frankly analyse the past (83:1)
Confess former ill-feeling (if they know about it!) (77:1)
Express sorrow, regret (77:1, 78:2, 81:1)
Ask forgiveness (79:3)
Ask if there is anything else we have done to harm the person and if they want to tell us how it affected them.
Ask what we can do to make things right (83:2—'our behaviour . . .')
Follow-through with family or other people close to us
"So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love.
The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it. . . Our behaviour will convince them more than our words." (83:1–2)
". . . thoroughly explain to them the new principles by which he is living . . . proceed to put these principles into action at home." (98:3)
"Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague." (98:3)
". . . provided, however, the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree." (99:1)
What to do if you cannot see the person directly
Write a letter (83:3).
Other options (not in the Book) for where it is agreed the direct approach is impossible or inadvisable—consult with a sponsor concerning these:
- Praying for knowledge of God's will as to how to make alternative/indirect amends.
- Writing an anonymous letter.
- Writing a letter and reading it to a friend, sponsor, or spiritual advisor.
- Writing a letter and reading it at a person's grave or a place with significance for the person in question.
- Sending money anonymously.
- Giving money or time to an appropriate charity.
- Making indirect amends, e.g. finding a way to help people in a similar position to those your have harmed but cannot make direct amends to.
- Considering what changed behaviour patterns are required on an ongoing basis and adopting those new behaviour patterns.
- Ask your sponsor for further ideas on how an indirect amend can be made.
In any case, place the matter in God's hands (120:3).
When not to make amends directly (because it would harm them or others)
"Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." (77:0)
"Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit." (79:2)
If the amend would actually make it harder for us to be of maximum service to God and the people around us, we need to be careful, and consult with others and God (80:1).
Examples could include causing ourselves to be unemployable or costing taxpayers money through court cases, etc., or placing those dependent on us financially in a worse financial position.
If possible, obtain the permission of those who may be affected (80:1).
Do not generally reveal new information (81:1).
Do not involve other people (81:1).
Factors that do not stand in the way of amends
Them having harmed us more than we harmed them (77:1)
Still not liking the person (77:1)
A negative response from them (anticipated or actual) (78:1)
Financial harm to us (78:2)
Personal consequences in general (loss of position or reputation, or jail) (79:1)
When do you make amends?
Face the creditors now and arrange the best deal ("Arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry ... We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them.") (78:2)
A practical note: prioritise debts where you will be pursued legally and consider consolidating such debts through an agency. Consider how much you can afford to pay off per month in total and split, if possible, between all your creditors, in terms of an opening offer for how much to pay back. Then you will be able to approach everyone more or less simultaneously and will not have to delay approaching any particular creditor. It may be best to approach and negotiate deals with all of the creditors who can pursue you legally first before entering into any arrangements with people who do not have a legal claim or do not even know you owe them money.
The key priority is approaching creditors promptly.
Step Nine prayers
"God, please fit me to be of maximum service to you and to those around me." (77:0)
"God, show me whether or not to make these amends directly." (80:1)
"God, let me place the outcome of these amends in your hands." (80:4)
"God, show me the right way to approach these amends; have me keep the happiness of X uppermost in my mind." (82:1)
"God, show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love." (83:2)
A way of 'managing' the amends
Split the amends cards/sheets into four piles:
Willing and able
Willing and unable
Unwilling and able
Unwilling and unable
'Willing' means you are prepared to make the amend today.
'Able' means you understand clearly the harm, are clear on how to make the amend, and have the details for how to contact the person in question.
Proceed with the willing-and-able pile (under the guidance of a sponsor) and pray to God for willingness/ability/further preparatory steps to take for those where you are unwilling or unable.
Review periodically to see which amends have shifted from unwilling and/or unable to willing and/or able.