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What does accountability look like?

One of the greatest strengths of addiction is secrecy. It is the fuel that enables addiction to flourish. The antidote is accountability.

Luke 8:17 – For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

The lie that Satan tells us in addiction is that we can get away with it. We can use, and nobody will find out. We choose to believe that lie because we want to. We want to use; therefore, we choose to believe that it is possible to maintain our secret activities. There is just one problem. The truth ALWAYS comes out. We are always discovered eventually, sooner or later.

We have a choice about accountability

And that choice is this: We can choose to be accountable before the damage is done or we can choose to be accountable after the damage is done. If the truth is going to come out eventually anyway we have the privilege of deciding if the truth strengthens, builds, and encourage us, or, we can choose to allow the truth to weaken, expose, destroy, and discourage us. I spent a long time allowing the truth to be the latter. I treated the truth as my enemy. The truth does not desire to be our enemy and bring us harm. The only goal of the truth is to make us TRULY free.

John 8:32 – And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Choosing not to be accountable is CHOOSING to remain in bondage.

If Jesus came to set us free and He gave us the instructions on how to become free and He gave us the ability to carry out those instructions and we remain addicted, then we remain addicted by choice. Do not misunderstand me. It is a very demanding process, becoming free. It takes God’s grace. It calls us to lay all of who we are at the foot of the cross. It is not easy, but it is achievable, for any of us, if we sincerely seek to be free. It might not be possible by our own might, but with the help of Jesus Christ and His shed blood, and assistance from places like The Home of Grace, there are none of us lacking the ability to find freedom.

Accountability is vulnerability

accountable   /əˈkɑʊn·tə·bəl/
responsible for and having to explain your actions

Accountability is the informing of a person or persons about our thoughts, feelings, and actions with the goal being that people around us will help us do the right things and NOT do the wrong things. The purpose is that we do not do it alone. There is strength in numbers. Besides, if the addict actually possessed the strength to remain sober on their own, they wouldn’t be an addict, would they? The truth is we don’t have the strength. Our very best efforts caused us to become addicts and go to rehab. So why on Earth would we want to use the same strategy after leaving rehab that we used before going to rehab? We all know the definition of insanity, and that is it!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

We need to get others involved in our recovery. We need people that care about us who will watch our 6, and our 12, and our 3, and 9, and basically all around us, 360 degrees. We can never have too much accountability. However, we can have all of the accountability in the world, but if we are not open, honest, and transparent, we doom ourselves to failure. If we want the accountability that helps keep us sober, then we have to be transparent. We have to make sure they understand our situation completely and thoroughly. Those things that we keep to ourselves are the things that become stumbling blocks to our sobriety.

James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

What does appropriate accountability look like?

You cannot share all of your stuff with just anybody. You do have to be selective. You need to make sure the people you invite into your circle are trustworthy and have your absolute best interest in mind. Making you happy is not their mandate. Keeping you sober is. They need to be able to disagree with you and tell you truths you may not want to hear. We spent years lying to ourselves in addiction. There is no reason to believe we won’t lie to ourselves again, whether it is intentional or not. However, not everybody is worthy of our trust. Not everybody has our best interest in mind all of the time. But there ARE trustworthy people out there, and there ARE people that have our best interest in mind.

To the addict:

– You will not stay sober without some form of accountability.

– You will not stay sober if you do not consistently communicate with your accountability partners.

– You will not stay sober if you are not honest with your accountability partners.

While I am at it, let me deal with a major lie that Satan will tell you about accountability. We do not have reputations to ruin as addicts. Addiction has already damaged, if not destroyed our reputation. The people who have been tasked with keeping us accountable should already know all of our dirt anyway. They will absolutely NOT be disappointed with us when we make that phone call to tell them we are struggling and need some help. To make that particular phone call, in my experience, builds trust. It shows that we are doing the right things, that we are, in fact, trying. And as a side note: accountability partners should never be family. That is very rarely a good idea, in my experience.

To the prospective accountability partner:

Confidentiality is the single most important aspect of your job. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to be perfect. But if you lose the addict’s trust and burn them on confidentiality, they may not find the strength to open up to another person. For the addict, loss of trust in our accountability partners is often a near guarantee to relapse.

You have to be available most of the time. Even if it is only through text messages, we have to be able to reach you. If we as addicts fall off the boat and are in danger of drowning and nobody is able to throw us a life preserver, then we will drown.

You have to be vigilant. It is certainly OK to rebuild trust. That is the goal. But we as addicts should never have unquestioned trust. You should always have at least a questioning thought to the things we’re doing. If we have a bad day and realize nobody is looking, we may not have the strength to cry out for help.

You absolutely have to be brutally honest. Once you become an accountability partner, your top priority is our sobriety. Being our friend is secondary. Sometimes you may have to say things we don’t want to hear. Sometimes you might need to verify the things we tell you. We may get our feelings hurt. We may even complain and pout. But at the end of the day if our accountability partners don’t give us reality checks then who will?

It is a long road.

This journey may very well last the rest of our lives. This is not a come and go event. But the addict has trusted you above so many others to walk this road with them. If they have done so, it is because they trust you, and they have faith that you are both willing and able to do so. Thank you to all those who help keep us accountable. The journey is worth the hardships we will endure together.

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  1. I’ve been my boyfriend’s accountability partner for 6 months. I read his reports ( which are usually 24 hours prior) and I begin my day the moment I awake reviewing every word, site, text, you name it. every keystroke doesn’t skip my attention. it’s become part of my daily routine. approx 15 min a day I spend going over every detail. filled with anxiety I will catch him having done something. I’ve become addicted to monitoring him and I don’t trust him. he’s told me he’s moved on from pictures and videos to gazing at real women in the world daily and undressing them with his eyes. he said he is overwhelmed as they are everywhere and his problem is worse. he has no strong male support and I’m really the only one he can be held accountable to in his eyes. it’s killing me. I can’t start my day without reviewing the previous days activity, and it doesn’t feel normal to track his every mood. Christmas was tough because I almost found gifts he was considering getting me, and i finally told him last night I can’t do this. I begged him to let me off it. I said if you knew you had the power to help me rid myself of an addiction, would u? he leaned on concerned…yes of course! I said, what if the catch was that it handed yours back to you? he sat back concerned. what is it he? asked…I cried. please…it’s killing me reading this daily. it seems you’ve been better but I feel I’m the only one holding back your dam bursting. it’s wasting my days and I’m addicted to searching . he began to cry. oh….one thing I forgot to mention? he’s my ex boyfriend now. I broke it off a week ago from when this was written and he told me hed still like me…his ex gf to be on it…regardless of my feelings. he knew I took being his A.P. seriously and that he absolutely would seek out bad stuff the minute I left the site so I’m riddled with tremendous guilt over this. I haven’t left the site yet.
    your thoughts….I’m sure you have an opinion here!

    • I thank you for sharing your story. That is a very big step. If you desire to discuss this further (if a private conversation is better than a public one) please feel free to email me .

      in one of my posts i mentioned that family members (which for this discussion includes girlfriends/boyfriends should never be accountability partners/sponsors. Not only does it put an unfair burden on you (a feeling like it is your responsibility to keep him sober) but it adds work on top of the hurt you’ve already endured because of the addiction. And if you’ve broken up it is, in my non-professional opinion, an obstacle to closure, healing, and moving on with your life. You’ve seen good cause to end the relationship but you can’t completely end the relationship because you’re involved with him every day. That’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to anybody you will be in a relationship with next.

      An accountability partner/sponsor’s job isn’t to keep an addict sober. It is to make sure they are working a program to keep themselves sober. It is to get them through extremely hard times when they feel weak. It is not their responsibility to prevent the dam from breaking all on their own. Besides it sounds, according to your comment, like he’s found a way around all of your efforts anyway. if he’s just moved into his mind with the real thing then all you’re doing is cutting off one source while he gorges himself on another source. It doesn’t SOUND like he’s working a program. In my opinion you need to seek out God’s counsel on this. But if you believe that watching all of his activity has become an addiction for you then you already know it is unhealthy. Lastly, don’t buy the lie then enemy sells. If you stop being his accountability partner and he goes back seeking bad stuff the minute you left, THAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. It is a CHOICE HE MADE of his own free will. You are not responsible for his sobriety. You have the power to assist him in it. But ultimately each of us is responsible for our own sobriety. I hope that helps. Please feel free to comment further, or email, if you have any other questions or concerns. I will be praying for you both.

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