How to Make Amends With Loved Ones After Rehab

Chances are, you hurt some of your loved ones during the throes of your addiction. Read on to learn how to make amends with loved ones after rehab.

In 2014, an estimated 24 million people over the age of 12 struggled with addiction.

Struggling with addiction it can be painful. That pain intensifies when you’ve realized you’ve hurt the ones you love severely.

In this article, we’ll outline how to make amends with those you love and hopefully help you take steps to repair the relationship

What is Addiction?

Addiction is, or substance disorder can be somewhat tricky to define. Mostly it’s a brain disorder, in which the individual is solely focused on a substance whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or other things. For a person wrestling with addiction, they are willing to go to any lengths necessary (even if it means putting themselves or others in harm’s way), gaining the substance.

Addiction can be diagnosed by a mental health professional such as a phycologist or counselor who specialized in addiction.

Who Struggles with Addiction

Unfortunately, addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can be plagued by it – men, women, teenagers, old, and young – all can fall victim to addiction.

It is not uncommon for people diagnosed with other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD to experience addiction as well or have a genetic component.

Making Amends and Just Apologizing

While apologizing and making amends might seem similar on the surface, they’re very different.

Apologizing is recognizing what you’ve done wrong, saying you’re sorry, and moving on.

Making amends is about reconciliation and repair of the relationships that have been damaged. It’s reaching out to those you’ve hurt and display your desire to make things right.


Types of Amends

It might seem strange that there are types of amends, but it’s true. Making amends is the 9th step in AA 12 Steps to Recovery. Let’s take a closer look at the three types.

Direct Amends

Direct amends involved going to the person you have wronged, apologizing, and helping make it right. It takes bravery and humility to fulfill direct amends.

For example, if you broke a friend’s plate in anger, you would apologize and then replace the plate. Learning from your mistakes is also an element of direct amends. From now on, you would respect your friend’s property and learn to control your angry outbursts.

Indirect Amends

Indirect amends usually follows a direct amend and deals with the motivations behind your behavior. Indirect amends happens when you cannot physically reach out to the person you’ve wronged.

An example of indirect amends would be if you (unfortunately) were driving drunk and killed someone. You could not approach them directly, but you would find a tangible way to justice. An example would be using your time to educate others on the dangers of drinking and driving.

Living Amends

Living amends is precisely what it sounds: deciding to change for the better and showing others by a shift in your behavior or lifestyle. This takes dedication and drive, but it’s worth it to stay clear from destructive behaviors.

Why You Should Make Amends

Overcoming addiction and then moving on as nothing happened can’t be done. Making amends may be challenging, but it’s necessary for the health of those involved in your life, and for yourself.

Here are some benefits to making amends:

Stress Relief

Imagine seeing someone you haven’t seen since your addiction and feeling uncomfortable because you’re not sure how to react. Making amends reduces this feeling of stress and shame you could experience, especially if the person didn’t know you were in recovery.

Rebuilds Trust

Addiction severs trust. To rebuild trust with people is not easy, but if they see that you’re willing to do the grunt work required to establish greater confidence, they might be willing to learn to trust you again.

Clears Your Mind

While in a drug rehab center you may come face to face with feelings of regret or remorse about everything that’s happened with your addiction, including how you’ve hurt others. Making amends with them gives you (and them, hopefully!) relief about what’s happened, though you still have a long way to go!

Boosts Your Self-Esteem

Continuing in a victim mentality is dangerous and toxic. When you take responsibility for your actions, you learn how to right a wrong, and in turn, build your self-esteem and credibility. Knowing that you’ve done the right thing increases your confidence.

6 Ways to Make Amends With Loved Ones

If you’ve battled addiction and are wondering how to apologize to someone you hurt deeply, keep reading to understand more about making amends. Here are ten ways to start today.

Write Out A List of People You Believe You’ve Hurt

If you can, try and think about all the people who might have been negatively affected by your choices or lifestyle. You’re not that person anymore, and you want to reconnect. Write down all the names, so you don’t forget anyone.

Just adding people to your list is not recommended. Do some digging and soul-searching and think through those who might have been deeply affected by your actions.


While making amends is important by far, it begins with apologizing.

But how do you craft an apology? First, as painful as it can be, evaluate your actions and consider how they hurt the person. Step into the shoes of the person affected and see yourself from their angle.

The apology must be sincere and genuine, while genuinely understanding how the other person is feeling. If possible, try writing it out first (similar to the list), so you get a better understanding of exactly for what you’re apologizing.

The best way to begin your apology is by asking the person if they’d like to meet privately and go from there. Always have a plan about how you want to approach them and what you’re going to say.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions

No one enjoys owning up to their wrongs, but when you’re making amends, the hurt person needs to see this, so be as clear-cut as possible about your behaviors. Taking ownership of your actions shows that you are avoiding blaming others and yourself. It also shows that you’re working towards a more positive lifestyle.

Reach Out For Reconciliation

When you’re working towards amends, it’s important to ask the other person what specific things you could do to help them heal. Communicate with them how much the relationship means to you, and that you’re open to hearing what they would prefer to you to do.

Be Ready for Any Response

After making amends, be prepared for a variety of responses. While some people may be more forgiving and eager to jump back into a relationship with you, others may be more cautious, or even flat out refuse. Be understanding and empathetic to their answer, no matter if it’s positive or negative.

Do your best to answer all their questions honestly if they ask, avoid impatience at all costs. They have a right to try and understand what’s happened.

Be Proactive

Talking about making amends is terrific, but it’s more important that you follow through. Decide the steps you want to take towards making amends and be purposeful about it.

Have Patience

Trust is not easily gained back once it’s been destroyed. If someone has decided they will continue in a relationship with you, be patient with them, as they might need time to process their feelings or thoughts.

It’s true that sometimes people do not want to hear it. They don’t care about your recovery, what you’ve been through, or how you’re trying to overcome. That’s OK, as long as you’re trying your best.

The people who do not wish to make amends at the time may need time to think as well, and you’ll have to accept the fact that they may never come around to forgiveness. Allowing people their space and being patient with them is a significant indicator to them that you’ve changed. Keep moving towards those people who are welcoming and ready to accept your amends.

Making Amends: It’s Good For Everyone

Honesty and humility are vital factors when working to make amends. Yes, addiction has taken a toll on you, but it’s also affected those you love. When you choose the right step towards reconciliation with family members, you’re setting yourself up for a bright future surrounded by loved ones. Are you or someone you know struggling with addiction? We’re here to help in a non-judgemental and compassionate way. Contact our recovery center today to see how we can help you.


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