A couple of nights ago my husband and daughter had a blow-out over something she did. In the course he completely lost his temper and said something inexcusable to her. I was so angry all I could do was hiss at him not to EVER speak to our children that way again and take my sobbing daughter to her room to cry it out. As I comforted her I told her again and again, "you are not what ANYONE says you are, not even your parents." I remember all too well growing up in a household where cruel words were never far behind a mistake or accident. Those words spoken in haste or judgment cut to the bone, and it's a cut that never really heals.
The next day as I spoke to my husband about what he had said, I emphasized my belief that there is no place for justification in an apology. "I'm sorry I did X, it was because you did Y" is NOT an apology. By justifying actions with "you made me do it" the apology rings false. It implies that the actions or words, however reprehensible were on some level acceptable. It pushes the fault from the one who did the wronging to the one who was wronged. And in some ways that to me seems worse than the actions in the first place.
Which brings me to alcoholics. I have yet to work my ninth step "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others" but I know I have many apologies ahead of me. When I make those amends, my words need to reflect my sincere regret for my actions and my apology to the person wronged. I cannot say, "I'm sorry I did X, it was because I was drunk", because that would negate the apology. I cannot justify my past actions, I can only try to live my life better now.