Ultimately in order for someone to have success in addiction recovery they need to have a sense of accountability towards themselves. With that said, it’s also beneficial to feel accountability towards someone/something outside of yourself.
In very early recovery just being accountable to ourselves doesn’t always work out very well. We are usually still plagued with addictive thinking. That is why learning self accountability through being held accountable to sources outside of ourself is so important in addiction recovery.
My personal experience with learning accountability in early recovery came when I was in an outpatient drug rehabilitation program. In this program I met with the same group of people for 2 weeks. During that 2 weeks we were informed that we were going to be given a scheduled drug screening on Monday mornings and then also there were random drug screenings during the week.
I quickly got to know these people. It was pretty hard not to since we were sharing our deepest feelings with each other. Things that we probably had never shared with another human being in our lives. I quickly started feeling a responsibility towards the group that I could not use drugs.
I knew that the group would hold me accountable for using drugs. It was not something that I could get away with undetected, even though my addiction tried to convince me otherwise. I realized that we were all there struggling to get through our very early recovery and I didn’t want to be the one to give up and use…since everyone else would know.
My biggest fear was what would happen when I no longer had to take mandatory drug tests. Would I then only feel accountable to myself? That hadn’t really worked out in the past. I voiced my concerns aloud in the group and it turned out that everyone was struggling with that issue.
We had not yet learned to take true accountability for our actions unless forced into it. So what is an addict to do? How does one learn to be accountable for their actions?
With myself, I began to start the practice of accountability at recovery meetings. I made a promise to myself that I would be completely honest within a meeting even if I had to admit to a group of people that I didn’t really know that well that I had had a relapse. If I had done something that I considered to be relapse material I would go into a meeting and convince myself to just raise my hand. I felt a responsibility towards my fellow addicts which made me not want to use.
It was through practicing accountability towards external sources that I learned self accountability. No longer are the only things keeping me clean the threat of a random drug test or the feeling of letting others down. I’m at the point now where I don’t want to let myself down. There is no hiding anything from myself anymore and that is a really great place to be.