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The process of making amends is an important part of our recovery work. It’s hard to heal and move forward when we haven’t made amends to the people we’ve hurt. We instinctively want to right our wrongs and seek redemption when there are things we feel guilty and ashamed about. It’s second nature to want to make it up to the other person. We want to rebuild the connection between us and repair the damage we’ve caused. Our addictions have created so much turmoil in our lives and inevitably impacted our relationships in some very damaging, destructive ways. 

But when is it not a good idea to make amends? Are there instances when we should avoid making amends? Keep reading to learn when making amends may not be the best decision. 

Unhealthy Relationship Dynamics

Many addiction recovery programs recommend that we not make amends when it would cause more harm to either person. Sometimes our relationships have lingering problematic dynamics. There might be persistent toxicity that still runs rampant or patterns of codependence that prevent us from thinking clearly about how things affect us. For example, we might be so attached to another person that we’re blinded to the fact they are emotionally abusive towards us. When we are in an unhealthy relationship of any kind, sometimes trying to make amends to the other person as we’re recovering would actually be detrimental to our progress rather than helpful. It can impede our recovery rather than support it.

Causing More Harm Than Good

Sometimes when we’re in recovery, we have relationships that have been estranged for so long and sustained so much damage that they’re beyond repair. One or both of us may have finally found happiness and achieved inner peace, in part because the relationship is over. In this kind of situation, we might not want to make amends if it would bring up past wounds and hurts that neither of us can handle reliving. We might know instinctively that we’re healthier apart. In some cases, the relationship may be too unhealthy for us to even be in communication. The process of making amends can be harmful in cases like this, and being in touch with the other person might hurt them – or us – more than it helps.

Assessing the Other Person’s Needs

The purpose of making amends isn’t just to soothe our guilty conscience and move on from past mistakes. It’s also to express our regret and remorse in a way that shows the other person how much we care. We want to communicate to them how sorry we are for the things we’ve done – that we care about them and their feelings so much that we want them to know how sorry we are. When we’re making amends, the other person’s feelings are just as important as our own. 

If we’re determined to apologize but the other person is better off being left alone and/or being in touch with us would be detrimental to their well-being, we should defer to their needs. We can’t let our needs cause us to harm others any more than we’ve already harmed them over the years. We should assess their needs to determine if our making amends would be in their best interest.

 Being Fueled by Urgency and Desperation

When we want to make amends, we want more than to just apologize. We feel a strong need for there to be clarity and openness between us. We want there to be honesty between us – finally. Sometimes we may feel desperate to make amends because unresolved issues with people we care about can be incredibly confusing and challenging. We may feel overwhelmed by our need for redemption. We may feel as though we’re drowning in shame. If we haven’t forgiven ourselves yet, we feel a sense of urgency to have the other person forgive us so we can move forward in our lives with a clear conscience. 

When we’re in this place, it might not be time to make amends – we’re seeking clarity and resolution within the relationship when we haven’t created them for ourselves yet. We need to get to the point where we feel clear about everything we’re hoping to make amends about. We want to feel as though we’ve come to our own kind of resolution without needing it from someone else. We want to be independent in our thinking and not attached to anyone else in codependent or dysfunctional relationships. We want to be able to forgive ourselves, without needing approval or validation – or even forgiveness – from anyone else. Before we’re able to make amends, perhaps the most important thing we can do is to feel clear and strong within ourselves and as though we love, accept and forgive ourselves. When our past mistakes are still bringing us down, when we feel a sense of desperation and neediness, we might not be ready yet to make amends.


As important as it is to make amends, it’s even more important to establish a healthy relationship with ourselves based on self-forgiveness and self-love. Until we’re able to do this, our recovery work will be incomplete and disingenuous. We’ll be making amends to feel better about ourselves, rather than to repair the damage we’ve caused. We’ll be apologizing just so that we no longer feel guilty, rather than because we want to heal the wounds we’ve created. When we’re not ready to make amends – or when it would be detrimental to anyone involved – it may be better to continue to focus on healing ourselves and our relationship with ourselves before we try to make amends and salvage relationships with other people.

 At The Guest House Ocala, you will be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion through every stage of recovery. Call 855-483-7800 today or visit today for more information about our treatment programs.