Over the years of helping people it has become apparent that one very core issue in the recovery process is accepting personal responsibility for oneself and one’s actions. Although it is very clear that addiction is a medically recognized disease it is also very clear that one’s ‘disease’ is often an aggregated response to situations, circumstances and familial scripting that has left the individual hopeless, helpless, powerless and lost. Often the individual may state “I had no control over x,y and z.” If we peel back the onion and see this statement for what it truly says one can see it is devoid of any personal ownership for a given situation. Ownership is synonymous with personal responsibility because when you own a “thing” it is yours to do with it what you will. If it were, let’s say a car, it could be washed, waxed, oil changed, vacuumed, driven and taken care of and barring something unforeseeable it should give its “owner” years of reliability, comfort and happiness. However if the individual stops caring for their car it will begin to break down. Often slowly, for instance, failing to wash the car leaving debris caught in a crevasse will promote rust which if left untreated will methodically eat away the structure of the car to the point there is nothing left. There is something to blame – the debris. There is something to complain about – the delay, and there are a million excuses: bad weather, no time, out of soap etc….
These three overly common actions: blame, complain and make excuses ultimately and unequivocally lead to having a victim mentality. Because personal responsibility was missing, the individual, once they began making excuses, complaining and blaming released their ownership and lost their personal power and their personal responsibility.
Now if you place your body/life/mind in the above example of the car and the debris is the substance you use to “escape” you ultimately find yourself in trouble with your family partner, spouse, the law, school or job. It is often, if not always, due to your loss of personal responsibility and falling into a victim mentality looking to blame, complain and make excuses for your circumstances and situation. Once the victim role is accepted the human psyche relinquishes its responsibility and wallows in the misery of the plight they now face. Strangely this place even being so desolate, painful and depressing can somehow be very comfortable because there is no acceptance of responsibility for the direction your life took!
Consider you are a friend of Bill W’s. You go to meetings 3 times per week over many months, then you cut back to 2 times, then 1 time. Your attendance becomes sporadic and the time you once set aside for fellowship, grounding and alignment slowly becomes displaced with some “other” time requiring event. The cracks in your recovery armor began to form when new time events take the place of your recovery meetings. New “opportunities” presented themselves in those recovery time slots that slowly and insidiously transformed into open opportunities for relapse. Your “program” is out the door and you stand without the balance and head leveling benefits you once made the most important part of your weekly routine. Suddenly work starts to feel oppressive your girlfriend/wife/partner etc. seems overbearing, nagging and you just need a little release. One 12oz beer, no biggie… over time it becomes three, six, twelve, eighteen. You stop showing up to work, your significant other threatens to leave you and you can’t figure out how you got here.
You got here the day you let go of your personal responsibility for your recovery and stopped caring for your disease. If you listen and look at the film of your slip into the proverbial rabbit hole you will see a ton of excuses, (jobs, girlfriend, etc.) complaining and blame. You sit, a victim blaming and complaining about how you ended up in rehab expecting a magic fix getting you back to the powerful trustworthy, independent, personally responsible person you once were.
Recovery programs like Cornerstone ask you to move slowly toward the goal of independence and personal responsibility, but you have to be honest, open and willing to work with us to navigate back to personal responsibility/ownership. It took a long time to get here and it is going to take a lot of work to get you back to where you want to be, but it is possible. In fact it is guaranteed 100% but the guaranty lives within you and your personal responsibility knowing this disease is able to be put in remission but not cured.