Accountability In Addiction Recovery

February 27, 2010 — 7 Comments

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.

7 responses to Accountability In Addiction Recovery

  1. I also wonder what will happen when my mandatory random drug screenings will end. I am in a five year program with the Nursing Board at this time. I asked to join 2 years ago. I had been in AA for many years with many relapses and various lengths of sobriety. I have three more years in this program and the urines have definitely made the difference. I know longer can lie to myself, “just one and I’ll go back to meetings tomorrow”. I did this for years and the result was the closest to death I have ever been. By the time my pogram ends in three years, I will be a different place in my recovery. I am working on my fourth step at present and learning how to differentiate the false from the truth. I am grateful to have two years clean (without ANY slips).

  2. Excellent article! I had the same experience of being accountable to a group, and it also taught me everything I know about holding myself accountable to my new standard of living.

    And congrats to you, too Marilyn. 2 years without any slips is Excellent!

  3. As always, the right idea.

  4. I left this comment in your email link:

    You have scrubbed your site of Cymbalta references including the withdrawal blog. Have you made an arrangement with Eli-Lilly?

    You did not respond. So you did. So that’s that. Right? You sold out?

    Of course you can’t answer. But you can delete this inquiry. So it goes…

  5. Hi i have been an addict now for most of my life i have tryed several times to get clean, my drug is pain pills mostly in the past harder stuff,I have taked suboxone 2 times now and always seem to relaps, i can’t understand why.The want is there but i never seem to stay clean. i have never went to meetings or any thing i have a great supportive husband and family so i don’t understand.I try so hard to stay clean but it never seems to be for more than a short time then i’m right back in it again help help.

  6. I’m so grateful to have found your site. I have just started blogging about my own recovery and found your blog as I was doing so. I just finished a post about outpatient recovery I put myself into. Yes accountability plays a HUGE factor in recovery. That really became obvious during the outpatient program – when it was obvious that some people were still having abuse issues.
    We weren’t notified of the screening dates – but it was obvious when people didn’t come back after there had been one – what was really going on. Very sad when you consider the entire picture. There was a young girl there – only 17 – and she was trying so hard to stay clean. One of the other patients tried to sell to her and I believe it was because of her accountability to her recovery that she was able to let one of the counselors know.
    Thankfully, he was asked to leave, and we continued our progress with a few people dropping out during the 6 month period.
    I’ll be forever grateful for the time I had in the program to really concentrate on my recovery and completely dive into the process.
    Two and a half years later – I’m a GSR for my home group and very grateful every day for what I’ve been able to achieve in my life – with the help of my Higher Power.
    Peace to all.

  7. thank you so much for your web site i have got so much information about my addiction and how to go about help me so about my recovery for now i am a struggling addict myself your site help me so much thank you

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