What Does it Mean to Take Accountability in Recovery?
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Many people who actively struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) also struggle with taking accountability. They deny that they have a problem and refuse to get the help that they really need. They may get defensive when approached about their disorder, may make up excuses for their behavior, or even lash out at those that are trying to help them. 

Before anybody can help them, they must first acknowledge to themselves that they have a problem that needs to be addressed. This is the first step of moving forward and beginning the healing process. They can then begin to take accountability for mistakes they may have made or people they may have hurt. 

Why Is It Hard for Those Struggling With SUD to Take Accountability? 

There are many reasons why someone struggling with substance misuse doesn’t want to admit that they have a problem. In some cases, they truly don’t believe that they are struggling with addiction. They think that they are in control, can stop at any time, and don’t need to make any changes. In other cases, people know deep down that they are struggling but are too afraid to admit it. They may be scared of how others will look at them if they choose to ask for help, or they may be afraid of what treatment would entail or what their life might look like in recovery. 

Many people who struggle with SUD also struggle with mental illness. They may be dealing with something like depression, anxiety, or PTSD and don’t think that they can cope with these things without using drugs or alcohol as a crutch. This can be a major reason why they try to remain in denial about their addiction. In reality, substance misuse can actually make these mental disorders worse. However, it is possible to find real strength and healing in recovery. 

What Does Denial Look Like in Relation to Substance Misuse? 

When it comes to substance misuse, denial goes beyond an internal unwillingness of a person to admit they have a problem. It can occur through how someone talks about their present or past substance misuse, what they believe addiction to be overall, and through a lack of willingness to commit to recovery. A lot of times, it comes through the following examples: 

  • Minimizing one’s own substance misuse 
  • Acting as if they never actually had a problem (this can occur even after a person has stopped engaging in substance misuse)
  • Getting angry or defensive when confronted about present or past substance misuse 
  • Refusing to seek treatment 
  • Ceasing substance misuse but not willing to take the proper steps to avoid relapse 
  • Refusal to keep up with treatment by attending support group meetings or therapy
  • Blaming others for beginning to engage in substance misuse to begin with, or for one’s relapse
  • Threatening to give up when the recovery journey does not go as one anticipated 

What Does Accountability in Recovery Look Like? 

Accountability in recovery includes a person taking a step back, looking at their life, and acknowledging that they have a problem and need to get help. From there, it involves not only being willing to take the necessary steps outlined through treatment but actually following through with them – not just for a few weeks or a month but for the rest of one’s life. 

Part of taking accountability involves someone not only completing a treatment program but following the instructions of their care provider and putting in the work every day to protect their sobriety. There will be days that are harder than others, but it is up to the individual to take control, turn away from temptation, and reach out for help when they know they need it. 

Making Amends

Once a person has started their recovery journey, their next step is to consider how they need to take accountability for their past mistakes. Consider the example of hitting a baseball and accidentally breaking a window. Someone can apologize to whomever’s window they broke, but at the end of the day, the damage is still there. It takes actual action to truly correct the damage that was caused. 

Maybe a person made some mistakes that got them into trouble legally. How could they go about making amends to their community for the harm they caused? This could be done by volunteering time or money to help those in need. Maybe this involves paying court fees to make amends. 

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of taking accountability in recovery is taking accountability for the pain one may have caused those closest to them. Maybe something was said or done that they didn’t really mean while under the influence of substances. Maybe trust was broken in some other way. Beyond simply apologizing, it is the individual in recovery’s job to try to make things right. 

Taking accountability for your substance use disorder is the first step in getting help and beginning the recovery process. There are a lot of reasons why people may tend to hesitate to take accountability and admit they have a problem. They might be scared of how people will look at them or of what life in recovery could look like. After taking accountability by making the decision to seek treatment, they must then make amends for past mistakes. This could include making amends to the community and to friends and family members. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today.