Making Amends Pays a Karmic Debt

Andy Crooks writing as Andy C
3 min readSep 22, 2022


The question over coffee with a group of AAs was: Why are amends so important in the AA Program?

I was the most senior AA at the table. With that mildly pontifical tone old timers can get, I opened the discussion, saying, “in our Program, amends are important at many levels, I see at least four.

“In the history of AA, amends are important. Until Dr. Bob made his amends, he did not stay sober. You may recall the story, Dr. Bob met Bill, had a period of sobriety, slipped, and came back to Bill, who gave him his last drink. Still hung-over and fortified with some ‘hair of the dog’, Dr. Bob, a proctologist, conducted surgery on a poor innocent normie. Surgery completed, he drove around Akron and made his amends, perhaps starting with the poor normie he had operated on. Amends were the key. After making amends, he never had another drink.

“In the mythology of AA, amends are important. Amends signaled AAs birth. There were other legitimate birthdates that could have been selected. The birthing day could have been the date of Ebby’s visit with Bill, the date of Bill’s hot flash in Towns Hospital or the date of Bill’s first meeting with Dr. Bob. Instead of any of these, the birthday of AA is the day Dr. Bob made amends.

“Third, in our Steps and Program, amends are important. In our Big Book, the Program promises are made in the context of the Ninth Step, the amends Step.

“And finally, practically speaking, amends are important. Everyone I know who has skipped this Step was uncomfortable in their Program, and if they persisted in procrastination, they went back out. Turns out making amends is the easier softer way.”

I sat back to let them absorb my wisdom.

But my wise and erudite observations were overwhelmed when a young sponsee said, “I don’t know about all that stuff, but it seems to me making amends pays a karmic debt, and karma is important, so amends are important.”

He continued, “karma is the sum of all life; and it will predict my future. Karma predicts how will I come back in my next life; I could come back as a crotch louse or a lion.

“And I would rather be a lion, so I better pay my karmic debts. I better make amends in this life and pay my karmic debt, so I don’t come back as a crotch louse.

“Amends are important because they are karmic, and karma is important.”

The young AA’s contribution to the conversation was terrific, much better than mine. He painted a simple picture and got me moving, thinking about my Program. The thought of coming back as a crab had me reviewing my Step Eight list that night, to ensure I paid all my karmic debts.



Andy Crooks writing as Andy C

For Andy C, not drinking was the first spiritual awakening. He’s been blessed with subsequent spiritual awakenings as the results of the 12 steps.