Step 9: Taking Responsibility and Action

By Michael LeBlanc, Addictions Counsellor, Renascent’s Paul J. Sullivan Treatment Centre

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

Step 9 is an action step and a step where you must take responsibility for your actions. This is the step where you must become accountable for your actions and the harms done to people, places, and things.

The two Steps that scared me the most were Step 4 and Step 9. I did not know what I was doing for Step 4 and did not have the courage to ask my sponsor how to do it because I already had very low self-esteem, and I thought he would think I was stupid. Finally, after six weeks he asked me what was going on and he showed me what to do.

When it came to doing Step 9, I made all the easy amends, the ones to my family that I knew would forgive me. When I was doing Step 4 and 5, one person’s name kept coming up constantly, and this person was at the top of the list when I made my list of amends in Step 8. This person was the one amends that I needed to make, but I did not want any part of it. I had convinced myself that I would never make this amends. This decision was all based on fear.

Eighteen months went by, and I still hadn’t made this amends. Then one day, as I sat scrolling through Facebook, this man’s name popped up. I immediately sent him a message through messenger and asked if he would meet with me. He agreed, and after consulting with my sponsor, I set out to a Starbucks in downtown Toronto with a certified cheque to pay him what I owed him.

When I arrived, he met me at the door with a very stern look on his face and offered to buy me a coffee. I was surprised. I explained to him that I understood that what I had done to him was wrong, and that I was in a program trying to be a better person. He spoke up and told me how he felt about what I had done to him. He never took his eyes off me the entire time, and never cracked a smile. It was very uncomfortable, but I sat and listened.

I told him how truly sorry I was and that I wanted to make restitution. He accepted the cheque and then told me that he appreciates me doing what I did, but he was not in any position to forgive me at this time. He wished me well and left the coffee shop. Although I was not forgiven, I did the right thing. I took responsibility for the first time in my life, instead of running away from my problems.

Today, I can walk around in Toronto and not have to look over my shoulder. I cleaned my side of the street. After I made these amends, the promises started coming true. Coincidence? Not in my eyes.

About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email