The “A” Word

People in recovery usually hate the “A” word. This one word that requires all self-esteem, ego, and pride to go out the window. The one word that sounds like nails on a chalkboard; being repeated over and over during group sessions. The one word that forces you to get outside of yourself and ask for help. The word is… for $400 dollars….         


I know some of you just cringed by having to read it. I’m sorry but we have to talk about. If you are trying to stay sober, you NEED to invite accountability into your life. Having accountability means you find someone to confide in and they help you stay on the straight and narrow. Can I let you in on a big secret? We can’t do this thing alone.  You need someone to call when you want to get high. Someone that can talk you off the ledge when you want a drink.  They need to be people you trust, who can be strong for you when you can’t be. Choosing the guy you get high with every Saturday as an accountability partner probably isn’t the best idea. Your drug dealer or addicted cousin probably won’t be the best of help either. You need someone farther along in their own sobriety.

I have figured out why addicts hate the idea of accountability so much. First, we have walls as high as the Great Wall and trust nobody. Secondly, when it comes to holding others accountable for their actions we correlate it to something in our past life: “snitching”. In my time of recovery groups, I have seen this topic come up again and again. When somebody is sneaking around and lying to the group and other people know about it, they will often stay quiet. And then when that person gets exposed and the group is asked why nobody came forward, at least one person always says “I didn’t want to be a snitch”.

When you live in the drug world, you better not be caught as a snitch. The street community is its own mafia organization and snitching is the most blasphemous betrayal. The culprit, if left alive, remains ostracized. And forgiveness? Don’t even think about it. In your first encounter with a new drug dealer, they will hand you the goods and say “If anyone asks, you didn’t get it from me”. In the addicted culture you learn to keep secrets, and if you’re smart you learn to keep your mouth shut. I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell every addict who challenges me on accountability.

This ain’t the streets anymore.

When you live on the streets you only care about yourself and you “do you”. True friends on the street keep each other’s backs. They go to their graves before they snitch. When you choose to get sober, true friendship looks different. It means being honest with those around you. It means telling someone if you know your friend is walking down a path of destruction. It means standing up for what you know is right when you live in a rehab or half way house. I know it’s uncomfortable and it’s something we’re not used to doing, but we have to change our mindset. If you know someone is messing up and you hold them accountable with authorities, you’re not a bad friend. You are actually a good friend because you care about their life and that exposure could be the very thing that saves it.

So you may be wondering. How does accountability work?

I am so glad you asked!

An accountability partner asks the hard questions. The things that usually make them uncomfortable to ask and you uncomfortable to answer. In attempting to kill this leach of addiction it’s important to figure out the small things that lead you to the big things and then find someone that will help you not do the small things. 

Sounds simple enough right? Well the only issue is trying to determine what your small things are, which usually only comes through trial and error.  An example of the “small things” might be: skipping a few meals, going to a bar “just to play pool”, or hanging around your old stomping grounds. An example of the “big things” might be: completely falling back into your addiction;  giving into bulimia, taking a drink, or buying an 8 ball of cocaine. Now for someone not addicted to the big things just listed, the small things seem almost innocent and harmless. But those things can be your triggers to relapse.

Recognizing your “small things” and admitting them to someone else is a very hard pill to swallow. Ego keeps us from reaching out. Pride tells us “oh it’s not a big deal, if everyone else can handle it, so can I”. Shame tells us we should be past these struggles by now. We think we are the only ones still struggling with these temptations, and that ain’t half the truth. I used to think I was the only one. You know what that thought made me do? It made me keep my mouth shut. It made me not be honest or transparent in my struggles. It made me put on a mask that said everything is fine and I don’t need your help. My life changed when I decided to GET REAL.

Take off the mask today. Let go of your pride. Who knows, it might just save your life.







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