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How to Work Step 8: 12 Step Program Tips & Worksheets

Take steps toward healing by making a list of those you have harmed.

Many people recovering from addiction work the 12-Step Program to facilitate healing, growth, and lasting change in their lives. The 12-Step Program is a popular recovery program in America, and most people work through the 12 steps alongside a group of sober peers or with the help of addiction treatment professionals. If you’re about to start working Step 8 of the 12-Step Program, we’re here to help.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at Step 8. We’ll offer a brief explanation of its purpose and provide helpful tips and worksheets to help you get started with it. If you’re ready to dive in deep, keep reading.

What are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Why Is Step 8 Of the 12-Step Program Important?

Step 8 is an integral part of the 12-Step Program because it begins the amends process. It initiates healing by asking us to identify the various ways we’ve hurt others with our addiction and make a list of people we need to make amends to.

Perhaps you feel like you could skip over this list-making process and just go out and apologize to certain people in your life. While you could do this, it’s not the best idea. You mustn’t avoid step 8 and skip directly to Step 9. The act of making a list forces you to think about how you have harmed others, the specific damage you’ve caused, and how you can make amends that are sincere and impactful.

In some cases, direct amends may not be possible. Regardless, you can still make things right with indirect amends, such as donating your time to a worthy cause that the person held dear. Additionally, some of the people on your list may have also hurt you, producing feelings of resentment or anger towards that person.

Taking the time to write down each name will force you to think about each situation independently and consider how to offer a sincere apology and right the wrong. As a result, your amends are much more likely to lead to genuine healing, personal growth, and opportunities for forgiveness and change.

Although you can’t control another person’s response to your apology, you can manage your behavior. As long as you know that you put forth every effort to repair the damage done in your relationships, you can feel good knowing you did the right thing and move forward with your life.

How Should I Work Step 8 of the 12-Step Program?

If you’ve already worked steps one through seven, it’s time to get to work on step 8. For those working through the 12-Step Program for the first time, it’s a good idea to seek help and support from a counselor, addiction treatment professional, or AA sponsor. These individuals will provide assistance and guidance as you start making your list. Here are a few additional tips that might help you work step 8 of the 12-Step Program:

  • Acknowledge negative emotions but don’t let them hold you back from completing Step 8. While you’re working Step 8, you’ll face some unpleasant memories about things you did or said. This can be discouraging and may conjure feelings of sadness, self-pity, anger, or frustration. To work through these emotions, make sure you recognize and validate them but don’t allow them to take over and keep you from making progress in recovery. No one is perfect, but by making a list of people you’ve harmed, you can feel good knowing you’re taking steps toward changing your life and behaviors for the better.
  • Categorize your list. Once you have a general list of people you’d like to make amends to, you should also categorize it based on:
  • Those you can make amends to now.
  • Those you should make amends to later.
  • Those you need to make partial amends with to prevent any further harm.
  • Those you won’t be able to make direct amends with for various reasons.

Once you break your list down into these categories, you can decide how to handle each one without it feeling so overwhelming.

  • Get help. As mentioned above, you should seek help to work Step 8. Whether you’re completing an outpatient rehab program or you’re attending 12-Step meetings independently, rely on others to help. You can get with your sponsor, therapist, or even a supportive sober friend to help. Their support will make the process easier and may provide you with more clarity than trying to do it on your own.

Printable AA Step 8 Worksheets

In addition to the tips above, you can use printable Step eight worksheets below to help you work through your list-making. Here are a few online resources that may help. You can also request AA worksheets from your addiction treatment provider, counselor, or AA sponsor.

Who Can Help Me Work the 8th Step of the 12-Step Program?

At Briarwood Detox Center, we help people start their new life in sobriety with safe and effective drug and alcohol detox programs. Our detox centers in Austin and Houston also provide one-on-one clinical support and access to 12-Step resources like H&I meetings.

During H&I meetings, you’ll hear from other sober people who have made the same journey you are. You’ll also have the chance to connect with sober peers and meet potential sponsors who can help and support you through the recovery process.

After you’ve completed your detox program, the Briarwood staff can help guide you into the next phase of your addiction treatment. Depending on your individual treatment needs, we might recommend completing a residential rehab program, online rehab program, outpatient rehab, or enrolling in a sober living program

When you’re ready to make a change, contact the compassionate team at Briarwood Detox Center. We work with many insurance providers to make sure detox is as affordable and convenient as possible. Please call (512) 262-4426 or contact us online to learn more about our individualized drug and alcohol detox programs.

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