Accountability and Sobriety
Accountability – the quality of being accountable. It is the obligation or willingness to be responsible for one’s actions.
The definition is clear, but to who exactly should you be accountable.
Accountability is important as it reinforces adherence to your healthy habits. If you are accountable, then excuses begin to look weak and insufficient at best and plain whiny at worst. Addicts love excuses because they can create the illusion of credible reasons to use one more time. With addictive behaviors, though, there really are no acceptable excuses. I have never heard of an excuse holding up after using. Using again is simply a result of YOU yielding to the addictive urges and cravings.
When you are accountable, you acknowledge and take responsibility for your action. This implicitly means that you are aware of your actions. You observe them and recognize the intentions driving the actions. This kind of observation and analysis can be accomplished by writing in a journal, by going to therapy, or by attending support group meetings. The more you are aware of intentions and drivers of unwanted behaviors, the easier you are able to change them and get into a healthy lifestyle.
But… to who should you be accountable?
There is one perspective that believes that the only one who you can or should be accountable to is you. For an alcoholic, it can be both frightening and freeing to come to this realization. However, realizing and accepting responsibility for the life you lead and want to lead is the true path to freedom.
The flipside is to be accountable to another person or group. This requires vulnerability, but can pay off with trust and respect. This can help build friendships and communities. Society is much better off when we can trust each other. When we all act as checks on each other’s behaviors, lending a collective guide to healthy living. That is, we can learn how to act in society. And how many alcoholics are repeatedly undermined by the belief the belief that sobriety doesn’t really matter because they think they lack the ability to know how to act normally around people in a normal, healthy and meaningful manner?
So, you can be accountable to yourself, to others, and to your community. In fact you should be accountable to all of them. It provides you with the greatest degree of freedom. However, you must remember that people are fallible and if a person you are being accountable to fails you, then that does not free (or require) you to return to the old behavior or to pick up a drink. You are still accountable to yourself. On the other hand, if you feel weak, then your accountability to others can be used to get you through the weak spot.
Changing behaviors, especially addictions, is not easy. Accountability can be a powerful tool to find success.