Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

How It Works: 12 Steps

Step Nine

"We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."


The Ninth Step is an action Step. It is a Step in which our commitment to our new NA way of life needs to become evident in our daily living emphasizing the focus on our current personal relationships. We need to start treating the other people in our life today with compassion, acceptance and love. What we are looking for the results we want from working the Ninth Step in our life today are nothing short of gaining a greater new confidence and a certainty that this new NA way of life that we have chosen to live by is really true and effective. That is we "amend" our current behavior the result can be a greater "peace of mind" which will then help us to better apply Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelfth.

As we heal in our social and spiritual relationships, we are in touch with more people that we can get along with. Recovery lessens our fear and reduces the number of people that we try to avoid. Through working the Steps, we invite God as a spiritual force or being to move in and exert a force in the direction of our personal betterment and health. A surgeon may sew an open wound together but only the spirit of life we call God can actually make the separated skin, muscle and tissue grow together again. Healing is a miracle. For some of us, amends are like stitching the wound together so that the healing can take place. We know it is getting better when old wound starts itching as the new skin begins its function. The word heal is an important focus to our recovery process. There is so much out there in the world to discourage us and force us to pay prices for stuff that we did when we were out of our minds.

We discontinue our errors and replace them with positive alternatives thus accomplishing a healing. How we earn our living, how we look at other people and how we provide for those who depend on us must all change in time. Helping others to heal gives us a steady flow of unforeseen breakthroughs and self-awareness. Areas in which we need help that might have been invisible to us for the rest of our lives, will often snap into focus if we see someone else making a similar mistake. We may say, "Oh, no!" when we see them doing what we do, but our whole lives begin to change. Perhaps we should say, "Oh, yes!" Many times these are the little life lessons we should have learned as children but we missed out on them while we were in active addiction. While other people were experiencing life, we were out to lunch. Healing for us is filling those areas we missed out on and moving into those areas where we've never been before. It is the increase of our life on a solid footing.

Spiritually experienced persons are called 'adepts' because they have studied, discussed and applied spiritual principles enough to have some ability. This means that they are adept at practicing spiritual principles. On the other hand, many of us feel that we missed out when we were born and they were handing our the instructions on how to live. The 12 Steps of recovery turn this around and give us a refresher course in life. The spiritually inexperienced person may perceive the process to be an illogical bunch of hocus pocus. Fear and superstitious dread play a role in preventing our growth. We dread change and have trouble believing change will be for the better! As a member of NA, we each have the important right to our own belief systems. We accept, appreciate and fully understand that if we don't believe something, it will not work for us. If you think you don't believe - yet find something working - one possibility is that we have an unconscious belief that is strong enough to produce results.

Much has been written about putting closure on past harm done to others. Putting closure on past occurrences that don't involve real injury but just misunderstanding can heal and repair past acts that are continuing in some way. We complete them first in our minds by admitting the truth and communicating it where possible. A phone call, email, a letter, a personal visit or just our willingness will do what is needed to complete the act and keep it from casting a shadow over our present. Without making amends, our past will produce our future. What we change today, changes the balance of our lives.

This may be difficult to recognize especially when we lack some of the sensations that other people might experience. Our best move is to focus on our belief and let it become more clear over time. Sometimes the belief of another we love and trust can help us get started. But we have to walk enough of the mile alone to call it our own experience. Otherwise, our foundation is not based on experience and may crumble and fall. Prepare for it like any other journey. Start praying and expecting results. Focus forward on your newfound belief and not back to the unworkable past. Clean and healthy, lots of things get easy! We encourage one another to be sensible and keep spirituality simple. What is simple may grow more complex as time goes by, that’s to be expected. It is better to stick to that which is true and works than to subscribe to a belief that for the most part remains unclear. Recalling our own pain and difficulty, we are sensitive and don't hammer away at painful areas. We know the time will come when each of us wishes to expand the peace we begin to feel inside by canceling out elements of our past by making amends.

"An anonymous addict once related a Ninth Step story to me, relating to an amends that they had once made. This amend was of a grievious nature t hat might boggle the minds of many of us.

"At about six years clean, he had reached a point in his recovery to where he knew that he could no longer stay clean unless action on a more personal level was taken to address the wrongs that had been done to others as a result of his actions. Within our Fellowship or Society of recovering addicts, he was able to seek out a sponsor, someone who had been there, done that and survived to help walk him through this amend. And with the sponsors help under the all seeing eye of a loving and caring God working in his life he was able to make direct amends and enough time had elapsed that the person to whom the amends was owed was able to accept his amends with knowledge of where he was coming from because they had sought help from our 12 Steps.

"This story is being written because of belief that no matter how great or how insignificant we may imagine the harm we did in our active addiction, we now want to be free to go on with our lives. The Ninth Step offers us freedom from our past when done properly with our God of our understanding and utilizing the guidance of a sponsor."

Practical spirituality emphasizes our spiritual experiences. As our experience grows, we increase our capacity to share. On the Ninth Step, we only put people on our list when we gain the awareness of our need for freedom from those ‘bad feelings’ that we cannot otherwise resolve. We aren't looking to complicate matters so we don’t go looking for trouble. We simply need to wipe out some more of the leftover pain from our active addiction. The Twelve Steps deal with these internal issues and help us establish a solid spiritual foundation. In Eighth and Ninth Steps, we move out into the world around us and begin to clean up some leftover messes. Some of these may be relatively minor problems that are more felt and imagined than potential hazards to our health or threats to our life. Where a serious problem actually exists, common sense generates a prudence that cautions us to go slowly and ask others for help. We should consult our sponsors instead of plunging wildly ahead. Many have made the decisions to go ahead alone and some have paid a dear price. Remembering the slogan, "Easy Does It" is most appropriate in this Step.

NA says "Take it Easy" because when we push things, we break things. Some of us use the concept, "When in doubt – Don’t" and call our sponsors or get to a meeting to get a reality check. We continue to apply ourselves until we get the relief we seek.

The Tenth Step grants the power to change the past. While this may seem incredible at first, clean time is very convincing about removing the images, feelings, memories and lessons drawn from our past. Reconsideration of what happened, who was involved, were we loaded, how did we feel when we 'came around?' When our ego is quietened and we can see clearly, everything changes. We can surrender and immediately give and receive help. Our NA way of life stresses spiritual growth and helping others. As our ability to see and hear more correctly, our intense need for defense subsides. The day will come when you realize that your past is changing - not only the content and context of what happened, but some memories will simply surface out of nowhere. Others will just fade away and stop causing us pain.

We change the future when we change ourselves but we also change the past: what it means, what we think happened, etc. Some of the changes are minor but we will be pleasantly shocked to find real freedom in change. Think of it this way: we are angry, confused, frightened and there is a car crash. We feel responsible and involved. If there is major injury, we are overwhelmed with guilt, fear and remorse. If the same accident occurred and we were clean, clear-headed and thinking about one of the twelve steps, we are a different person. Just as we would have handled the situation of the crash differently, we handle the situation in front of us differently. It may be that we were the cause of the wreck but sometimes it was brake failure or the other car. Nothing we could have done would have prevented it. We take Steps Eight and Nine seriously in NA. And if we were at fault, there is no evasion of our blame or guilt. But it changes - and the changes may create a whole new picture of what happened and what it meant.

One members shares, "I knew a man in the program who ran down a drunk on a fifty-five mile per hour four lane highway. He was eaten up with guilt. But talking to him later, I found out the guy was in some kind of fugue state and had been staggering in front of cars for some time before he finally got hit. Other drivers stopped and came over to make sure he knew this. Even so, his remorse and guilt may have killed him, even though he didn't do anything wrong." This is a sensitive area and you are not asked to believe these statements right now. But you may remember them and think on them later. There is a miracle behind every cup of coffee in NA!

Some of us have said, "I am going to put all that behind me. If ever an opportunity shall come to set what has happened in the past in a better light or be honest, I am willing. It serves no one to allow my pain over what cannot be undone to cloud my future or my present. I would hope these errors will never repeat themselves just as I wish they never happened." If you know of someone who may be experiencing pain or confusion from past events, situations or circumstances that you know something about let them know. So long as it causes no further harm to anyone, including yourself, it may alleviate someone's suffering. And that will give you a lift. We have found we can't go forward without breaking these ties to the past.


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Reprinted from the 
Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life, 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace,
The Spirit of NA 
or NA Twenty Plus

being edited on this site.

Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.

NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA


All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.