Accountability and Recovery
A Monthly Letter from Dr. Charles McDonald, Assistant Program Director
For the addict or alcoholic who has found true recovery, accountability is essential. A friend of mine in the addiction field often says, “If I got a buck from everyone who has told me, “that doesn’t work for me” I’d be a millionaire.” Typically, when an addict states that something doesn’t work for him, in reality he is telling you “I don’t like that so I don’t do that and if I don’t stay sober and clean, it’s not my fault.”
When an alcoholic or an addict reaches out for help, he has little idea what it means to be “in recovery.” Very quickly, many new residents will be resistant to accountability. Yet, accountability is a means to an end. Without accountability there can be no recovery. Period.
When I say desired end, I presume that the addict really wants to stay sober. This is an important qualification because not all that say they do really want it. What they may want is for things to change, the misery that accompanies active addiction, the money problems, the relationship troubles, and so on, without actually changing anything at all. In fact, most untreated addicts would like to learn how to use and not have any of these problems. Of course, they can’t, but exactly what has to change is still a mystery to them. Sure, they have ideas about what needs to change, but a deep realization that their whole way of dealing with life, and their place in it, has not yet occurred. This is recovery in a nutshell: a process of realization that I must change everything to be sober.
The process of early recovery requires surrender after surrender. It only begins with surrender of substance use. All the surrenders after this are the giving up of many ideas, old and new (from the untreated addict brain) that simply do not work in regards to recovery. This is why accountability and recovery go hand in hand. Addicts want to be left alone by others. They are resistant to doing things any other way than their own way. And they will use a myriad of plausible reasons why they should continue to do things their way.
At Favor House, we encourage our residents to take responsibility for their actions both in the past and in the present. While we feel that unaddressed shame and the burden of caring that shame is unhealthy, it is our belief that it is only when we hold ourselves accountable and encourage others to hold us accountable that we can earnestly begin the journey of recovery. Our residents are held accountable for waking up on time, going to work, completing chores and assignments, attending AA meetings, calling sponsors and budgeting. These are only a few examples but you get the idea! Recovery takes commitment and it means following the “suggestions” of the program and others.
In our Next Newsletter: The Big Book, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions