The 12-step model of recovery from substance use disorders is the single greatest cure from the bondage of addiction. No treatment center, group of therapists, or psychiatrists can even compare to the recovery success achieved by following the 12-step process—which many believe is inspired by God and given by Him to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In 12 step groups all over the planet the members focus on each Step… month at a time. And, because August is the 8th month, our focus will be on the 8th Step which is “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”.

I know of no other group of people who are disciplined enough and serious enough to grow along spiritual lines that they would undertake this process of continuous improvement so conscientiously and wholeheartedly as do the world of recovering addicts and alcoholics who live the 12 Step process.

What a gift! A chance to clear away all the hurts and mistakes of the past by having the courage to make personal amends to all those who we once hurt. In doing this, we have three critically important things that support our efforts to overcome shyness, embarrassment, and shame. Those amazing assets that we have are:

  1. The gift of God’s constant love and support
  2. The loving assistance of a 12-step sponsor/mentor.
  3. The fact that we have worked 7 steps prior to this time.

In writing our list, we are encouraged to be as thorough as possible and include everyone, living and dead, that we can think of……including those who we simply weren’t there for when we should have been.

As addicts and alcoholics, our addiction had rendered us oblivious and uncaring to the needs of others. In 12-step recovery that we find in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) that we become much more sensitive to the needs of others than ever before, and a major part of that process starts with accomplishing Step 8.

Although we may encounter some people on our list of amends that will not be responsive and may hold on to a grudge, this is uncommon. And we find that making this list as thorough as we can is a true act of courage that is very encouraging to feel in sobriety. It’s been a long time since we felt that we had the courage to do “the next right thing”.

The 8th Step is a step that truly demonstrates the value of having a close relationship with a sponsor who can guide you in this process, which should not be done hurriedly. Take your time and be thorough.

I, myself, had an experience that would have been impossible for me to accomplish on my own. My father was an alcoholic and was beaten to death in a bar when I was 18 years old. Before that time, he was very tough on me, especially when drinking. He even beat me with a whip called “a cat of 9 tails” that was used on beasts of burden. When it came time for me to make my 8th Step list of people that I needed to make amends to, I sure had no idea of putting my father’s name on that list. But, in talking to my sponsor about it, he saw the brokenness in my life that alcoholism had caused in my relationship with my father. I was living in New York City at the time. My sponsor took me to Los Angeles where my father was buried and stood beside me as I knelt at my father’s grave and made amends to him. As I did that, I felt that Jesus was standing on the other side of the grave with the most loving look on His face that I have ever seen. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to that moment……. which I owe to God and A.A.

So, what may seem on the surface to be a simple task of making a list of the names of people that we’ve harmed, can become the start of a miraculous process of healing and reconciliation which is accomplished in Step 9 where we actually make our amends.

At SOZO, our mantra and slogan is, “Healing Addiction Through God’s Love”.

Step 8 is a classic example of how this is done. And, although my visit to my father’s grave took place 38 years ago, I will feel it in very powerful ways once again all through this month of August.

Bob O’Dowd, Executive Director

SOZO Addiction Recovery Center

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Copyright © 2022 SOZO Recovery Center Inc. All rights reserved.