How Recovery Was Achieved When It Stopped Being about the Drugs
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal accountability and how much learning the true nature of that for myself helped me turn the corner in overcoming my addiction. We often hear the word accountability as it relates to recovery and what is needed for an addict to overcome addiction. For a long time, I had this idea that it fell on other people’s shoulders to hold me accountable. Whether it was family, employers, girlfriends, or friends, the ways in which I sought to hold myself accountable were totally reliant on other people. The problem with this ideology was that it fit well with my addictive personality and my inability to take responsibility in my life.
The most glaring problem I had with this line of thinking was that the one thing I was good at as an addict was the ability to manipulate people and situations to fit my agenda. This didn’t help me when it came time to rely on other people to hold me accountable, especially when it came to my addiction. I had a realization early on in my recovery was that if I was ever going to truly turn my life around, I needed to learn how to hold myself accountable. I started to become more and more aware that this was something I had struggled with quite a bit, especially as an addict, and that it was an area I really needed to work hard on if I was going to not only overcome my addiction but also improve as a person in the process.
The first thing I needed to do was learn to take responsibility for my own shortcomings and mistakes rather than always pointing the finger. It’s difficult to hold myself accountable for anything if I can’t see the personal responsibility in my mistakes and the situations that arise. They go hand in hand and pointing the finger and placing blame on anyone and everything other than myself was the first habit that had to be broken. This took some work, for years as an addict I deflected my problems on other people and bad luck. Once I gained the necessary perspective on taking responsibility and seeing the areas I could improve on, I began focusing on ways I could hold myself accountable.
This included things like being honest with people. Dishonesty was heavily associated with my addiction, so I knew I needed to practice being honest at all costs. If I caught myself lying, I made a commitment to get honest with whoever I had lied to, and it doesn’t feel good to tell someone that I lied to them, regardless of the severity. It became far less stressful and more peaceful to simply tell the truth, and eventually that became habit forming. Another area was doing my job well, regardless of whether someone was watching or if I would get any recognition for a job well done. I had to figure out that excelling and doing well was something that made me feel good about who I am and what I do, and not being only concerned with how others perceive me. These are just a few examples of how I found ways to hold myself accountable early in the recovery process, and all this led to me finding a way of life that felt far greater than anything I experienced while getting high.
This was instrumental in me finding my self-worth again and handling my addiction issues for good. Once I realized that it didn’t fall on anybody else to keep me clean and sober, that I had to find a system to hold myself accountable for my actions and my choices, everything began to click for me. I had to work at it, and I made my fair share of mistakes along the way. However, I learned from them and became a better person for them. I think the biggest misconception I had during all my years wishing I could overcome my addiction but repeatedly failing was in thinking that drugs were the only problem, that everything would be solved if they were simply removed from the equation.
In the end, perhaps the most profound moment in my road to recovery happened when it stopped being about the drugs and became more about who I was as a person and who I wanted to be as I moved forward. That is how I overcame my addiction for good. If you or anyone you know is seeking help, please reach out.