Those people who manage to escape and addiction will do so by taking responsibility for their own plight. When abusing substances they may have had plenty of justifications that absolved their accountability, but such irrational thinking cannot follow them into sobriety. Recovery begins when the addict takes responsibility for their situation and decides to improve things.
The word responsibility means an individual has a moral, legal, or mental accountability for something. It means that people are answerable for any an act performed, and its consequences. Responsibility is based on the idea that humans are capable of making choices, and therefore they should be responsible for these choices. This means that if there are negative consequences for some action taking by an individual they should be prepared to be accountable for this.
Addicts fail to take responsibility for their life because they can justify their situation with ideas such as:
* The addict tries to blame other people for the substance abuse and the havoc caused by it. They will claim that they need to abuse alcohol or drugs because of the way people treat them.
* Instead of blaming their own actions for the mess their life has become they may try to pin it on bad luck. By blaming it all on misfortune it means they avoid having to take any responsibility.
* Those individuals who enjoy living an unethical life do not wish to view themselves as bad people. By refusing to take responsibility for their actions it allows them to escape the blame.
* There are people who will use the disease theory of addiction as a means to portray themselves as passive victims. Their logic is that if they have a disease it means they are not responsible for their plight.
* The addict will blame events in their past for their current situation. There is saying Alcoholics Anonymous that reflects the situation well, I may not have had the happiest childhood, but I certainly had the longest one.
* The addict may claim that life is just meaningless and they will use as an excuse to turn to substance abuse. If the universe is meaningless there is no need for anyone to take responsibility for anything.
* Addicts tend to suffer from low self esteem. They may fail to take responsibility for their situation because they do not believe that they deserve any better.
* Many addicts suffer from learned helplessness, and this means that feel completely powerless to impact their own life in a positive way.
* Addicts can be protected from the results of their actions by friends and family. This means that they can get away with behaving badly without feeling responsible for their actions.
* Many addicts are in a relationship with a codependent partner. This other person devotes their life to making up for the addict’s inefficiencies and so helps to sustain the irresponsibility.
In order for people to escape addiction it is vital that they take responsibility for their situation because:
* Nobody can make an addict become sober unless they confine that person to a cell – the addict needs to be a willing participant and to take responsibility for their life. There is the famous saying, you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
* If the addict does not feel responsible for their recovery they may do their best to sabotage it.
* In order to build a successful recovery it will be necessary for the individual to put in a great deal of effort. They will only be willing to commit such effort if they feel responsible for their own sobriety.
* If people do not feel responsible for their own life it means that they do not believe that their actions will make much difference to their situation. This means that they will not believe that there is any point in trying to become sober.
* Even if the addict manages to become sober they will continue to fall into maladaptive behaviors unless they take responsibility for their own life.
* Nobody else can do the work for the individual in recovery.
* The action of the addict impacts other people. If the individual does not take responsibility for their actions it will mean that these loved ones will continue to suffer.
* If people fail to take responsibility for their future they will almost have dark days ahead. Nobody gets a free ride in life.
* If people do not feel responsible for their own life they can be full of anxiety and dissatisfaction. They feel completely powerless and at the whims of fortune.
* When people do not feel responsible for their actions they become willing to do terrible things. Humans are capable of almost anything when they do not feel responsible.
* If the individual does not feel responsible for their situation they are likely to suffer from a great deal of negativity. This pessimism can suck away any motivation they might have to escape addiction.
In previous generations it was assumed that people fell into addiction because they were just bad people. The disease theory of addiction became popular during the middle of the last century, and this puts forward the idea that the addict is not fully to blame for their situation. They have a brain disease, and it is this that drives the addiction. This would imply that the addict is no more responsible for their condition than the diabetic.
While many would agree that the individual is not responsible for falling into addiction they certainly have a responsibility to get themselves out of this situation. Nobody else can do this for them so if they fail to take responsibility they are doomed to an unpleasant ending. Some individuals use the disease theory as justification for their failure to escape addiction, but this is argument is not valid at all. If people choose to continue to abuse alcohol are drugs they are fully responsible for the outcome of this.
If the individual has low self esteem they can doubt their own ability to make a positive impact on their life. This is the valuation that the individual makes of their own life, and it is closely related to self worth. Self esteem is also related to the confidence and satisfaction that the individual has with their own life. The impact of low self esteem can be serious and include:
* The individual may fail to take responsibility for their own life and any difficulties they endure.
* They may believe that they deserve to feel bad.
* People with low self-esteem find it hard to trust other people. This makes it difficult for anyone who is trying to help them.
* People with low self esteem tend to end up in abusive or unhealthy relationships. They can then use this as further justification for substance abuse.
* The individual greatly limits their own potential.
If people hope to escape from the misery of substance abuse they will need to take some responsibility for their situation, and its resolution. This can occur by:
* When people first become sober they can continue to suffer from low self esteem. The individual can increase their self esteem by setting themselves small goals and then accomplishing these – later the individual will have the confidence to tackle far more ambitious goals.
* Those individuals who end up in rehab should take responsibility for getting the most from the treatment. All this facility can do is to provide the appropriate resources, and it will be up to the client to make the best use of them.
* The addict needs to be fully involved in their own recovery. They should not just passively follow instructions – they need to own their sobriety.
* If loved ones have been protecting the individual from the consequences of their actions this should stop. A responsible person is able to clear up their own mess.
* The individual needs to understand that blaming other people for the things that is wrong in their life is disempowering.
* If people take positive action it will almost always lead to positive results. This is how the individual can take charge of their own future.
* The more that people take responsibility for their life the more empowered they will feel. They discover that taking responsibility makes life far more satisfying than being a passive victim.
* Critical thinking can be a wonderful tool for people in recovery. It means that they can weed out the faulty logic that is holding them back in life – addicts tend to rely on a great deal of faulty logic.
* Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can allow the individual to take more responsibility for their inner life. They will then find it easier to deal with negative thoughts and cravings.
* The individual should make their own decisions but it is sensible to ask for advice and guidance. Taking responsibility does not mean that the individual should stop listening to other people.
* Taking responsibility does not mean that the individual should avoid asking for help when they feel overwhelmed by things.