Maintaining a sober life is never easy but fostering personal accountability can be the key to helping people make wise decisions. No program can be successful if the person isn’t on board, so engaging personal accountability is key to ongoing recovery.
What is Personal Accountability?
Accountability isn’t just about sticking to the plan; it’s about understanding the rules of the plan and realizing how each life-decision helps or hurts the people involved in the plan. It’s about taking personal responsibility for those decisions—each and every time.
Among its other effects, alcohol can be a tempting escape from reality—fostering self-denial excuses, poor social communication skills and feelings of entrapment, helplessness and depression. Most counselors agree that accountability is absolutely key to the recovery process. But what are the best ways to empower people with addictions to embrace their own choice of accountability?
Use Technology to Build Accountability
Having the right tools available at crucial decision points can make all the difference in staying on track with a sobriety program. Technology tools provide person-specific data that can help people with addictions avoid the “justification trap” and empower them to make better decisions. Having data easily at hand erases the misrepresentation factor of sobriety status and eliminates the excuses often involved in interpreting the risks of next-step decisions.
Through the pervasiveness of wireless access, many cloud-based tools and smartphone-based applications have appeared on the market to assist people with controlling addictions. But the convenience of technology usually leads to the best outcomes. “If you are using technology as a form of accountability, a key component of your success lies in researching the technology and making certain it is convenient to you. No technology is effective if it is not used,” writes Cyndy Adeniyi, counselor and founder of Out of The Woods Life Coaching, in a blog.
Having access to individual data-facts also establishes a personal connection to sobriety pathways and can help a person learn about themselves and their personal triggers. Where are the decision-lines? How far is too far? When did I falter, and when did I succeed? Real-time data puts the power of decision-making directly into the hands of the individual, allowing the person to rely on person-centered facts instead of emotional reactions.
7 Steps to Embracing Accountability
1. Find an accountability partner.
Most sobriety programs emphasize having a sobriety relationship with someone who understands your struggle, supports your efforts and refuses to be a negative enabler. It’s not just about having someone to turn to when you’re feeling a trigger. Having an accountability partner also helps you tackle the detrimental effects of secrecy and isolation while sticking to your accountability decision.
2. Create a personal accountability statement and write it down.
The statement doesn’t have to be long, but it needs to include why you’re choosing to be accountable and what the risks will be if you don’t keep that promise to yourself. Deciding to be accountable is an intimate part of recovery that only the addicted person can choose to make, writes addiction counselor Michael J. Formica, MS, EdM, in a Psychology Today article. “Choice is an interior process.” Keep your statement in your wallet or purse so it is always with you and share it with your accountability partner.
3. Learn where your personal triggers are and create healthy strategies to handle them.
Triggers can include certain situations or people, and your own moods. This isn’t about avoiding situations you dislike; it’s about recognizing situations that endanger your sobriety. For some situations, you can choose a healthy substitute for alcohol and still participate. However, other scenarios may require complete avoidance of an event, a person or a situation.
4. Find assistive technologies that work for you.
Make that technology another partner in your accountability circle. Online support platforms and the burgeoning world of smartphone apps have opened many new doors to easy and economical ways to track your sobriety status and stay connected to those who can support you. In late 2017, the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General report on “Alcohol, Drugs and Health” recognized “eight national principles” to refocus efforts in alcoholism treatment, which embrace the use of technology to provide assistance and check-ins in a productive yet discreet way. Soberlink is a great example of such technology, it’s remote alcohol monitoring program connects a hand-held breathalyzer with robust cloud-based technology to provide real-time results to people in recovery as well as anyone else they choose to be a part of their accountability circle.
5. Consider participating in a formal program.
The best-known 12-step program is Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are other programs, including LifeRing, Celebrate Recovery, Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery and Women for Sobriety. Since formal programs often host meetings every day and can be found in most locations, they offer constant opportunities to engage in accountability. Whether it’s a faith-based program or a secular one, the key is to find a program that fits you and then take part on a regular basis.
6. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones.
When you stay on your plan, rejoice and reward yourself in a healthy way. If you use remote monitoring in your program, encourage yourself by tracking your own data, so you can see your progress.
7. Share your successes with others.
Maybe it’s while speaking at a sobriety meeting, or while conversing with a family member or friend. Sobriety is a forever-effort, so it’s always great to hear someone say, “this is what worked for me today.” Sharing that success with others will be as good for you as it could be to someone else—that’s why it’s called an accountability “circle.”
Maintaining sobriety is not an easy task; but incorporating personal accountability can be the key to successful, ongoing recovery. Learn more by visiting Soberlink Alcohol Recovery.
About the Author
Pamela Tabar is a healthcare writer in Cleveland, Ohio.