For those who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), more commonly referred to as alcoholism, recovery can be a journey that takes many different turns. Choosing sobriety, though beneficial, looks different for everyone and is an unpredictable and substantial life change.
Because of the difficulties that accompany alcohol recovery, the truth is that having accountability throughout the process is often necessary. By doing so, your treatment plan has a greater chance of coming to fruition, and your recovery is more likely to be long-lasting.
What is Accountability?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.” In alcohol recovery, this may look different from person to person.
In short, accountability is the personal choice and awareness of one’s actions and, while in treatment or recovery, taking the initiative and responsibility of your choice not to drink.
Types of Accountability
Just like treatment and recovery looks different for everyone, so does accountability. There are multiple ways to practice that range from self to group accountability.
The first and most important type of accountability in recovery is self-accountability. This means being in charge and responsible for your choices and the consequences that may come from them.
When in recovery, you must wake up every single day and choose sobriety, which may come with its own set of difficulties. But, there is no one more powerful or capable of protecting your desire to stay sober than you.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to practice self-accountability to ensure a long-standing and successful recovery.
A habit tracker is a tool or system used to record the completion of a task. There are phone apps and ready-made notebooks for habit tracking, but standard pen and paper work just as well to log one's progress.
Habit trackers work as a physical way to showcase the progress of your goals. For example, if you want to track how many days a week and how far you run in preparation for a marathon, you can use the physical tracker to see your day-over-day or month-over-month progression.
A habit tracker may be a good system for those looking for a way to hold themselves accountable to their sobriety and break their addiction. It is a low-commitment way to record your progress and to physically see how well you have been doing.
These systems allow you to set both short- and long-term goals that, once achieved, allow for self-reward and celebration. By utilizing a system like this, one can self-motivate by watching the physical transformation happen as you slowly start seeing each day completed on whichever method of tracking you use.
Achieving goals creates self-worth and self-esteem and, in turn, assists in maintaining your sobriety and cultivating healthy and meaningful relationships.
Remote Alcohol Monitoring Technology
You’ve likely heard the saying, ‘Recovery takes a village.’ For many sober individuals, their village, or ‘Recovery Circle’, comprises their sponsor, friends, family, and perhaps even their treatment professional. Soberlink, the leaders in remote alcohol monitoring technology, understands the importance of community in early recovery. This led them to design a comprehensive system that connects recovering individuals to their Recovery Circle to help strengthen accountability and rebuild trust with loved ones.
The system is simple. Using wireless connectivity, Soberlink’s remote breathalyzers share and transmit testing data between the Monitored Client and their Recovery Circle, making it easy to stay accountable and keep friends and family updated on progress. Following the completion of a Soberlink test, the system, which includes adaptive facial recognition, tamper detection, and Advanced Reporting capabilities, sends real-time results directly to your phone or email using an easily readable color-coded key detailing your alcohol consumption.
What additionally makes Soberlink unique and a favorite amongst Addiction Treatment Professionals is the company’s belief that tests should not be random but instead scheduled as it “creates structure and accountability” - an essential component for all in recovery, but especially those in the earliest stages.
Though it is crucial to have self-motivation to stay sober, group accountability is another important tool to utilize when cultivating a healthier lifestyle and improved recovery.
Finding a support system that roots for you and lifts you up when you struggle can help recovery feel less daunting and sustained sobriety more achievable.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step support group for those who struggle with AUD. Since 1935, AA has prided itself on its fellowship and camaraderie for those “want[ing] to do something about their [desire for] sobriety.” At its core, it’s a community of people who band together to help support one another as accountability partners.
The program requires all members to respect each other's anonymity to allow a safe place to share their qualms and respective experience with drinking. Further, one of their core principles is that sobriety requires connection with others who struggle with alcohol abuse.
When in AA, you’re encouraged to have a sponsor, ideally someone who has been in the program longer than you, to act as a friend and mentor, hold you accountable, and check in on you and your progress in an effort to prevent a slip or a relapse.
In addition to a sponsor, AA meetings are held worldwide, and, no matter where you are, a meeting can be found and attended. Individuals are accepted at any stage in the recovery process, and all are always welcome. AA believes that attending daily or weekly meetings and being surrounded by like-minded people with shared experiences can improve recovery and help those pursuing sober lifestyles feel more supported.
Addiction treatment professionals agree, surrounding yourself with a community of supportive and motivated people is crucial to sustaining lasting AUD recovery. Leaning on your friends, family, recovery coach, clinician, accountability tools etc. during treatment and recovery has also been known to improve outcomes.
Confiding in your support system about your sobriety goals opens the door to allow them to help keep you accountable in whatever facet you need. Your Recovery Circle can help hold you accountable by checking in, joining you in new activities, or simply being a shoulder to lean on if relapse occurs.
Most importantly, a Recovery Circle can help hold you accountable when you simply feel like giving up or that you are no longer able to do it on your own. Treatment and recovery are group sports, and your community is your team.
The Truth About Alcoholism: Why Consistent Accountability is so Important in Recovery
To remain steadfast in your sobriety, consistent accountability is a major component. Slipping into a relapse becomes much more plausible when you fail to take responsibility for your actions.
Though self-accountability gives individuals autonomy and power over their choices, group accountability offers an extra layer of support, and both are typically needed to successfully remain sober and in recovery.
When one struggles with alcoholism or AUD, they have become physically, mentally, and emotionally attached to the substance, making breaking those patterns a challenging feat. Though you can make the declaration you’re going to quit, it may take your brain and body some time to wean off the harmful substance.
To make a substantial decision like this takes immense willpower, and the follow-through can be challenging even for those with mild cases of AUD. Therefore, the better you can hold yourself accountable while surrounded by a support network, the more likely you will sustain recovery.
The Additional Benefits of Accountability
Longstanding recovery is the goal of accountability, but it is not the only benefit. Invoking an accountable lifestyle can positively affect different aspects of your life – even those unrelated to the chronic disease.
Improved Self Esteem and Self Worth
When we set goals and actively pursue them, our brain is wired to express dopamine, the brain's neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and pleasure. Therefore, when we choose to stay accountable in recovery and continue to achieve the goal of sobriety each day, we feel proud of ourselves.
This feeling of accomplishment associated with being accountable for your sobriety often improves self-esteem and self-worth. It also keeps you motivated to keep pushing through the hard days because you understand how rewarding it feels to succeed.
Though there may be days where you don’t feel as optimistic about your progress, the more accountable you are, the more you eventually accomplish and the better you feel, which will ultimately help keep you sober. These facets play off of one another in a consistent cycle making accountability important to one’s esteem and worth.
Stronger Relationships and Connections
Often, those who have suffered from alcohol misuse or AUD also experience issues in their relationships. Alcoholism is an isolating disease that causes many who suffer from it to become recluse and distant from those who are close and care for them.
Holding yourself accountable and asking those who care for you to do the same in your sobriety can help start rebuilding and strengthening damaged relationships. Accountability presents an opportunity for you and loved ones to begin the process of forgiveness, in turn, helping relationships repair.
Moreover, when you welcome companionship and support into addiction treatment, relationships often grow in trust and respect, allowing for stronger, healthier connections to be made.
Signs of an Alcohol Problem
Lack of accountability is not the only sign of alcohol addiction, however. For those struggling to manage their alcohol consumption, it may be beneficial to review the below AUD symptoms to determine whether treatment or monitoring is needed.
One of the first indicators you may have a drinking problem is through the physical signs your body is sending you. Some common physical qualms in those who suffer from alcohol misuse or AUD include (but are not limited to:)
- An intense physical need to drink.
- Feelings of withdrawal include nausea, sweating and shaking, headaches, and in worst cases, seizures.
- Extreme weight gain or loss.
- Discoloration, aging, or bloating, specifically in the face.
- A lack of energy and/or severe exhaustion.
- Random injury due to blackout or intoxication.
Any number of these signs may mean you need to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.
Behavioral or Social Signs/Symptoms
You may feel physically fine or maybe not physically dependent on alcohol, but there could be other factors that seem like red flags to you or those close to you. Some common behavioral or social qualms in those who suffer from alcoholism or AUD include (but are not limited to:)
- The avoidance of responsibilities like school or work resulting in poor performance.
- A rise in anxiety and possibly depression.
- A lack of desire to socialize and the evasion of friends and family.
- Consuming alcohol alone or in secret.
- Using alcohol in unsafe or inappropriate circumstances (like during work, first thing in the morning, etc.)
- Grabbing alcohol as a coping mechanism for a bad event or day.
- A complete change in character (this may mean you are now defensive, sneaky, mean, etc., because of the alcohol).
Any number of these signs may mean you need to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.
Finding the Right Help
If you or someone you care about is demonstrating any of the following signs due to drinking, it may be time to consider treatment. Fortunately, many different recovery methods and tools are available to choose from.
Though not everyone who suffers from an alcohol problem or AUD needs a rehabilitation center, it is an effective form of treatment for those with moderate to severe issues.
Rehabilitation centers come in different forms, which additionally produces options. The length, pedagogy, and systems differ from place to place, so ensuring you have done enough research is crucial before committing to one.
While rehabilitation may not be for everyone, accountability tools are helpful for anyone looking to get sober. Invoking all or some of the self and group accountability tools we’ve previously mentioned can help you get on track and work towards your sobriety goal.
If you attend a rehab center, most likely, you will experience some level of therapy. The most popular forms of therapy for those suffering from alcohol addiction or who consider themselves alcoholics are Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
However, some therapists specifically work with those who suffer from addiction outside of rehabilitation centers. This may be an option for those who cannot commit to a structured rehab program but still want the clinical help available to them via therapy.
The Benefits of Sobriety
There are endless benefits to living a lifestyle rooted in accountability, but there are also significant benefits to living a sober lifestyle. When you choose recovery, you may find that many aspects of your life have improved, making the challenges associated with alcohol recovery increasingly more worth it.
Some benefits to choosing sobriety include, but are not limited to:
- Increase in overall physical health. Most specifically, an increase in liver and kidney health.
- Decrease in physical ailments due to accidentally stumbling, falling, or hurting yourself while drinking.
- Increase in mental health (less anxiety and depression).
- Reduction in brain fog and the development of a clear mind.
- Success in professional parts of your life like work and school.
- Better relationships with friends and family.
- Higher self-esteem.
Choose Accountability, Choose Success
Choosing sobriety and maintaining recovery is a difficult task that should not be mocked or underappreciated. Though there are many positive benefits to living a sober lifestyle, making a life-altering decision still requires a tenacious attitude and a strong will to succeed.
Being accountable may be hard, but it's necessary and, more importantly, worth the work it takes to live a life free from addiction.