Individual Responsibility in Recovery

Individual Responsibility in Recovery


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As an individual, you are responsible for your recovery. Unbelievably, some of us can somehow overlook this.

You are creating a life of recovery and you are responsible for ALL OF IT. Yes, others can help you. Their “help” is merely advice. It is up to you to recover.

You have to embrace this idea that you are ultimately responsible. Take ownership of your sobriety in every way.

There seems to be this belief among some recovering addicts that their higher power cursed them with addiction, and that the solution is to reconnect with that higher power in the hopes that God can remove the obsession to use.

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For many years I never questioned this line of thinking, because I believe in the connection with a higher power and the power that can come from that connection. But I am starting to see the flaw in assuming that we were cursed with addiction.

In thinking that we were born that way, we shed some degree of our personal responsibility for it. By acknowledging that the making of our disease was out of our hands, we are opening the door to the idea that our recovery is out of our hands.

We can not let ourselves follow this line of logic. Recovery needs to remain our full responsibility. Whether we were born an addict, or whether we made the choices that led to our addiction is irrelevant (at this point). Our priority now is to own our recovery and take full responsibility for it.

How to own your recovery

This is similar to the idea of the zero tolerance policy.

1) First, you have to remove your internal bargaining chips.

Those thoughts that some of us have that say “I will give this recovery thing a chance, but if the going gets tough, I can always go back to drinking/drugging.” That is not an acceptable reservation to carry around because things will eventually “get tough” in your life.

2) Second, you have to detach and disregard others in your life who could sabotage your efforts.

During my recovery, I tried many times to quit smoking cigarettes through the use of a “smoking buddy.” This never worked for me, and it is easy for me to see why now. One of us would inevitably relapse, giving the other person “permission” to do the same.

Personal responsibility is just that: personal. Don’t try to shoulder it on to someone else when it comes to your sobriety. Own your sobriety. Claim it as your own. Do it for you.

3) Third, you have to find your own path in recovery. You are responsible for this.

In traditional recovery programs, we can sometimes rely a bit too much on help and direction from others.

A recovery program can make suggestions. A sponsor can tell you their experience and help you stay sober. But no program, and no person, can tell you exactly what you need to do to stay sober for the rest of your life.

That knowledge, and that journey, is yours alone to take. You are ultimately responsible for your recovery. If you want to stay sober for a long time, or for the rest of your life, or even just for one day at a time, then you are responsible for making that happen.

Don’t hold an excuse in the back of your head such as “but I was going to meetings like my sponsor suggested!”

No one can keep you clean. No one has a magic formula success that works for every addict and alcoholic. All of us have to find our own path in recovery.

We take suggestions from others in recovery. We take advice from our sponsor. But ultimately we have to decide what to apply in our lives, and what to discard as not helpful to us. These decisions are yours alone and if you don’t take full responsibility for them then you run the risk of relapse.

Own your recovery.


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