While we all have different journeys in recovery, most will agree that accountability is a crucial component when it comes to staying clean and sober. Once we admit we want to rebuild our lives—whether it’s to a close friend, a family member or all our followers on Instagram—it becomes a lot harder to just pick up a drink or pop a pill. After all, who wants to risk having to come clean and admit we lost focus for a sec—or, er, three years? Accountability is how we stay on track and we all have people, places and things that have helped us reach our recovery goals.
This is how accountability has worked for Allison.
What does accountability mean to you?
For me, accountability means doing anything and everything I can to keep myself on track. In recovery, that means being transparent and honest with everyone in my life. It means taking responsibility and following through with commitments I have made. It means setting goals and allowing other people to help me reach those goals.
Does the fact that people know about your recovery play into you staying sober? How?
Absolutely! I told everyone that I had been in rehab once I got out. I didn’t want to feel pressure from anyone to drink. I needed people closest to me to be sensitive to that to help me stay sober in the beginning. I was also tired of lying. I knew the only way I was going to stay sober was to start being honest with myself and with others. I wanted to live an authentic life, and for me, that was being honest about my sobriety. People would say, “Just tell people you don’t drink, you don’t need to tell them you’re in recovery,” but that didn’t feel right for me. It wasn’t true. People who are allergic to peanuts don’t just nonchalantly say they don’t like peanuts when they are in a situation that they could come in contact with them. They take every precaution necessary to stay away from them because it can be life or death. That’s the way I treat alcohol. I have also found that since I am open and honest with my recovery, I have a lot of people reach out to me for help. Helping others helps me stay sober. When everyone knows you are sober, people, even strangers, hold you accountable to that.
Who or what are you accountable to in your recovery?
Everyone who knows I’m sober and in recovery keeps me accountable. I have a sponsor and accountability partner that keeps me accountable to the 12 Steps. I have a sponsee I am probably more accountable to because she depends on me. I have a therapist that keeps me accountable to my mental health. I keep myself accountable to commitments I make by going to meetings and doing service work. Every time I publish an essay about my recovery, I feel accountable to everyone who reads it. I’m accountable to the newcomer that I give my number to, or the parent who reaches out for help for their child.
When I was newly sober, the accountability was very structured and seemed like a full time job but now it’s incorporated into my daily living and I hardly even notice how much accountability I have in my life. My friends and family serve as a safety net of accountability. They are usually the first to notice behavior changes and are quick to ask questions to make sure I am talking to my sponsor, seeing my therapist and going to meetings.
How important is having a community to your staying sober? Why?
I think having a community of people who “get it” is paramount to my recovery and staying sober. It’s just another form of accountability to have a group of people who are all working towards the same goal. It provides a sense of belonging and is a place you can navigate sober living without judgment or fear. In my own sober community, I learned how to trust people and form meaningful relationships when I was new to recovery. It’s a place I can go to give and get support and encouragement. And it’s the only group of people that know your brain as their own. My sober community helps keep me humble and honest and most importantly, accountable to my sobriety.
Have you ever relapsed?
No. I’ve been sober since I went to rehab in 2012.
What advice do you give someone who wants to get or stay sober?
Find people who have want you want in sobriety and stick with them. Don’t try and do it alone. Be willing and open-minded. It will suck but it will get better. Remove people, places and things from your life that will lead you back to a drink or drug. When I was in rehab, I made a list of “consequences of my drinking.” Whenever I would try and convince myself that maybe I wasn’t an alcoholic, I would look at this list as a reminder of how bad my life had gotten because of my drinking. That really helped me in the beginning. Surround yourself with good people. Find people who will hold you accountable. And don’t be too hard on yourself.
How important do you think transparency is in your recovery?
Transparency has been the foundation of building and re-building trust in my recovery. I was so tired of keeping secrets when I was in active addiction. My secrets kept me sick. When I got sober, I desperately wanted to be able to trust people and to be trusted. Transparency in others allowed me to trust them and I knew that I had to be transparent with others for them to trust me. Being transparent allows me to be vulnerable and genuine and keeps me honest.
How does it feel to earn people’s trust back now that you’re sober?
It’s priceless. I didn’t realize how unreliable and untrustworthy I had become in active addiction. My sister recently told me that if anything ever happened to her, she would want me to be responsible for her children. I was shocked. It wasn’t long ago that she wouldn’t have trusted me to babysit for an evening. I have put a lot of work and effort into gaining people’s trust back. It hasn’t been hard but it takes time.
For the ultimate in accountability Soberlink’s Share Program provides recovering individuals a technology to build accountability and structure. The program is designed for those who want to share their sobriety with their support network.
Follow Allison on her blog, It’s a Lush Life, Facebook and Twitter. She is a regular contributor to Soberinfo, AfterParty Magazine and HuffPo. Allison is also the founder of Will’s Place, a recovery resource center and sober living community for men that honors the life of her brother, Will Hudson, who died of a Fentanyl overdose in 2012.
About the Author
Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.