Christian Living


Overcoming Addictions 10/04/16

Who Have We Hurt by Our Addiction? - Step 8 in Addiction Recovery

“We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” Alcoholics Anonymous

Who have we hurt? Our parents, children, spouse, close friends, other relatives, people we worked with? Yikes, my list is long! How have we hurt them? Friends felt betrayed, children developed insecurities, and parents were financially burdened. Those are a few of the many ways our behaviors may have affected others. Hurts that we caused are varied and complex because of our different relationships and behaviors.

Sometimes people have a hard time accepting that they hurt anyone other than themselves. Does that describe you? This is especially true for functioning addicts who manage to keep the mortgage paid, hold a job, etc. When we take a deep moral inventory, we usually find that our behaviors did negatively affect someone who loved us. It has been said that “no man is an island.” We need to admit to ourselves who we may have hurt.

When we make our list, remember God wants us to do right unto others. Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” When we make our list of those we have harmed, we should ask God to help us create the list. He has been well aware of who we damaged emotionally and is willing to help us in this process.

We can also try putting ourselves in the shoes of the people who were in our daily lives when we were _____________ (name your addiction or compulsive behavior). When we look at the relationship from their perspective, maybe it will help us make our list.

I feel so guilty for hurting so many people. Do you feel that way too? That’s why it’s so important for us to carry through with being willing to make amends. We need to ask for their forgiveness and we need to forgive ourselves or we will carry this guilt forever.

Maybe another reason this step is so important is to take responsibility for our actions. So many of us have lived the victim role for so long that we’ve glossed over how we hurt others. We may have previously blamed the drug or blamed another person. When we enter into this phase of recovery, we are no longer blaming anyone; we are headed for healing. As we heal, our relationships need mending. Who do you need to go to and say, “I’m sorry?”

When we think of making amends to these people, we are planning to attempt to make things right with them. This can be a fearful step. Certainly, with God’s help we can have the courage to try. It’s all about forgiveness, and our Lord has shown us unwavering forgiveness. When we confess our sins to people we have hurt, they may or may not forgive us. But if we do not make this list and do not plan to make amends, we will never know who would be healed and comforted by our apology, including us.

Each of us will continue to add people to this list and repeat step eight and step nine (actually making amends with those on our list) for years as we gain a deeper understanding of the consequences of our choosing to _________ (name your addiction or compulsive behavior).

Copyright 2009 Beth Livingston. Used by permission.

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