The process of making amends in the Alcoholics Anonymous program: A qualitative study

Allison Seperack, University of Rhode Island


This study explored the process of making amends in the A.A. program, specifically the effects that good and bad amends have on sobriety. Six A.A. members were recruited and participated in 30–50 minute long individual interviews to discuss the effects of good and bad amends. Interviews were transcribed and coded and five themes were developed. The fear of responsibility described the in-depth and fearful process participants underwent in admitting to past harms. Second chances at healthy relationships described the positive influences the good amends had on the self, the Higher Power, and the person to whom the amends were made. Transcending the harm explained the trauma done to the self, the Higher Power, and the other, which after a period of reflection allowed the alcoholic to transcend the damage and move on. Freedom from past behaviors described the feeling of serenity participants felt from the amends and their dedication to living a new life that no longer included their past destructive behaviors. Lastly, participants revealed the importance of a sponsor as one of the most crucial indicators for success in the A.A. program. While forgiveness was initially thought to be a central part of the amends process, findings revealed that the process of making amends does not require reconciling the relationship with others, a central concept of forgiveness. Future research should expand on the variables used to measure A.A. program success to include various aspects surrounding the quality of sobriety, rather than quantifiable variables that measure only abstinence. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Theory and Methods

Recommended Citation

Allison Seperack, "The process of making amends in the Alcoholics Anonymous program: A qualitative study" (2012). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1508354.