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Step 8 – Brotherly Love – Principled Recovery Series


Brotherly Love

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

During this step, clients make a list of all the people in their lives they have wronged as a result of their substance abuse. These wrongs could be small things, such as a white lie to hide intoxication, or big infringements, such as stealing money to buy alcohol or drugs. The spiritual principle behind this step is brotherly love.

A SOZO Client’s Point of View: 

I knew that step 8 was about making a list of people I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. Although I had read the “SOZO Brother’s Prayer” on the walls of SOZO and our classroom and was beginning to really like my fellow residents, I still did not understand “brotherly love”. My understanding was more like that of a “buddy thing” than a spiritual principle.  Step 8 reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all” and it still did not sound like brotherly love to me. And then, in an 8th step meeting of A.A., I heard an amazing suggestion that I have used ever since. The suggestion was “study the table of contents in the 12 & 12 book.” On page 7 of the book, “twelve steps and twelve traditions”, in the table of contents for the steps, there is a synopsis of step eight, which reads, “this and the next two steps are concerned with personal relations. Learning to live with others is a fascinating adventure. Obstacles: reluctance to forgive; nonadmission of wrongs to others; purposeful forgetting. The necessity of exhaustive survey of the past. (4th/5th steps) deepening insight results from thoroughness. Kinds of harm done to others. Avoiding extreme judgments. Taking the objective view. Step eight is the beginning of the end of isolation.”

There it was. To attain brotherly love  I was going to have to work for it. I was going to have to use all of the spiritual principles I had learned so far in summoning up the courage to make these amends. That’s what brothers do to earn and keep brotherly love between themselves. Their relationship was not a “buddy thing”. Relationships that achieve the status of brotherly love are based on spiritual principles and not just the superficial traits of so many friendships.

This amends process was creating a brotherly bond that I had never before experienced. The bible had several examples of relationships that were mended by love and forgiveness. It was the essence of the holy spirit at work in my life.”


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) defines the 12 Steps as “a set of principles, spiritual in nature, when practiced as a way of life, that can expel the obsession to drink (or use drugs) and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”

The 12 steps are a process of getting honest with yourself, cleaning up the wreckage of your past, and learning how to live your life in a better, more meaningful & principled way. Based on the idea of God as each individual understands him, the 12 steps are generally spiritual in nature. 

In this article series, we examine each of the 12 step principles from a  SOZO client’s perspective, as they journey through the twelve steps. Through direct survey feedback, we’ll join various clients and their growing awareness of the spiritual principles behind each step in this series of articles.