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Accountability in Recovery

“The state of being answerable to another person for what we do or say we are going to do”

After one month of living on the streets, I had practically gone through the first 3 steps of an addiction recovery program; firstly acknowledging and admitting my powerlessness and the unmanageability of my life, I came to not only believe… but to trust that God could / would restore me . Then I made the decision, which was the start of my recovery journey. From admitting to myself that I was a mess, I was unable to manage anything about myself, from my own personal hygiene to the depth of my thoughts and emotions, plainly portrayed through my active addiction.

Only through faith did I manage to hold onto a sliver of hope that my environment, that my then current circumstances and that the trajectory my life was going in, could not be the sum total of my life. I came to believe that there was more to my life.

Though I had no comprehensive vision of what that looked like. It started with one decision, that whatever lay ahead (without ignorance to the tasks I was about to face), was better than where I was at. 

Beginning my recovery journey called for full ownership of the good, the bad and the ugly of my life. Ownership is one thing right… To know and accept that I have done wrong to those around me and more so, to myself. Taking responsibility was another story altogether. Having avoided responsibility for so long, I had to learn the process of how to take responsibility for myself, my actions and my life. I couldn't… I haven't done this alone. It is finally here at Project Exodus where I have come to learn, understand and implement concepts such as responsibility and accountability into my own life.

Accountability. This was a word that was entirely alien to me, both in concept and practice. My journey of implementing accountability is now a reality but also an ongoing process. I'm still convinced the difficulty to grasp accountability is because it is in direct contradiction to the culture of addiction, and after 6 years of heavy drug use, the psychological impacts run root deep. 

Accountability and responsibility are not the same thing, yet I have found on my journey that they often work together. Being held accountable cultivates responsibility and likewise, being responsible improves accountability.

 My early days in recovery have seen me seek out Accountability Partners through networking and forming relationships at Project Exodus’ recovery groups, cultivated through their community-driven addiction solutions. Also utilizing the Exodus Recovery app, which offers an array of recovery tools from a Life Recovery Plan builder to an Accountability Interface, which has made having a vision and setting goals for my life an actuality, being both measurable and attainable from a personal and professional point of view.

I am held accountable…

  • For my whereabouts by means of scheduling my daily activities and disclosing my schedule (which requires prior planning of my daily tasks).
  • For my money, by firstly holding a running balance of any and all purchases, keeping all receipts and going through them with my Accountability Partner as a means of creating better spending habits and to improve my money management overall.
  • For attending groups regularly by scheduling each of them weekly, as well as in the routine section of my Life Recovery Plan (which could also be done via the Exodus Recovery app by scanning a QR code at groups
  • To do random drug testing
  • To do my own physical work out plan, etc.

“The state of being answerable to another person for what we do or say we are going to do.”

 Accountability is an ideology rooted in the concept that life is not meant to be lived out alone and in isolation. No person becomes great alone. We are stronger when we work together, no matter the avenue of life. These are fundamental concepts that echo throughout the culture of recovery.

The patterns of addiction fester in and from behaviours that are secretive, manipulative, self-centered and responsibility-negating (to name but just a few.)

As a result, the negative default behaviours take root in our lives, be it, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, and these behaviours directly contradict recovery/accountability. 

In recovery, accountability is an extremely personal thing. It is dependent upon me, the individual, to create and shape it into what might be most effective for my recovery and my life. As we walk our recovery journeys, accountability not only aids in creating ownership but also highlights the fact that a helping hand is never too far away. It is, however, our responsibility to envision what it should ideally look like and to put those measures in place. 

The word accountability has connotations of words such as communication, responsibility, honesty and transparency. These are words which could otherwise be taken as fundamental pillars of any recovery.

If we think of the word pillar and hold that meaning of pillars to its imagery, it paints a picture of a basis or support. The dictionary definition is “a person or a thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.” In other words, pillars are the structures that reinforce, hold up and empower one’s recovery, thus persuading us of the importance of partnership or togetherness of recovery journeys. Support is paramount.

5 Commonly Asked Questions on Accountability in Addiction Recovery.

What is accountability in recovery? 

By dictionary definition, accountability is “the fact of being responsible for what you do and able to give a satisfactory reason for it, or the degree to which this happens.” This definition is abstract in its wording…ACCOUNTability,  It is just that; being able to give a detailed ACCOUNT for our actions and behaviours. Have you been out to the shops today? Perhaps you have been to work? Have you made a purchase of any sort? Are you able to give an account for these?

Why accountability is important in recovery? 

Looking at this question prompts an in-depth, detailed look at our behaviours in addiction. It is the nature of addiction to breed in behaviours that are secretive, manipulative, self-centred and responsibility-negating. To begin to recover or walk in recovery, these behaviours should/must be acknowledged, accepted and most importantly, changed.

In short this is a concept of radical change (behaviours opposite to those with which we proceeded in addiction)

Accountability is, then, a means of creating new and healthier behaviours, and prompts the sustainability of them, as opposed to the unhealthy ones created in active addiction. Accountability is crucial for the longevity and forward trajectory of a healthy recovery journey. The reasons we need accountability, is that being accountable is an excellent way to comprehend that our lives are our responsibilities, creating ownership of our choices and behaviours in everything we do going forward. 

How can accountability help me?

Accountability can be looked at as just one brick to a bigger building, with bricks before and bricks that follow. A by-product of accountability is creating and strengthening personal responsibility by being held to the things we say and do.

In that breath, being accountable is a means of protecting our recovery from the many external and internal fluctuations which often prove to be threats to our recovery journeys (warning signs, triggers and overall regressive behaviours). Thus the power of accountability comes from the perspective of our trusted accountability partners, an invaluable tool in assisting us in our recoveries.

Other benefits to practicing accountability in recovery include re-establishing / creating trust in our significant relationships by lessening the anxiety our loved ones experience. It is a strategy of disempowering the baffling nature of addiction by means of personal character development, critically assisting in closing the open doors of the impulsivity of addictive thinking. Helping create communication as a habit, which also promotes honesty. 

What is an accountability partner in recovery?

Ideally, an accountability partner should be a person/s living in a culture of recovery (generally but not always someone with a significant amount of clean time, two years or more). Preferably they should be educated about addiction, triggers, warning signs and the like—someone who upholds the pillars of recovery in their life and walks a journey of recovery themselves.

The basic role of an accountability partner is to help create and sustain balance by having input into vital aspects of our lives/recovery, and to offer assistance by means of perspective. Being vulnerable, even coming to a willingness to share and open up about personal details, is not an easy task.

Therefore, it’s important to reiterate that trust is always earned. It is something that is worked on continually with any relationship, and this extends to accountability partnerships as well.

The process of searching for and appointing an Accountability Partner is subjective. No matter in which area of our lives we may need accountability, the ideal person is someone whom we respect, trust and can communicate openly with.

An example of accountability in the area of finances, is someone, (best case scenario) in the financial sector, or someone who manages their money with diligence, whereby the results or fruits of their money management is evident. Likewise, if I am seeking accountability for my physical health, I would approach someone who is diligent in the way they approach and handle that part of their life.

There are no parameters which limit the need for accountability, just prior planning for that area of one's life and finding the right person/s to walk that journey with. 

What are some forms/areas of accountability?

Again, this is a subjective question and answer because although addiction shares a common thread in our behaviours, our substances/processes of choice are greatly different and ,likewise, our journeys are as well. This should be taken into consideration individually when looking at setting up accountability partnerships. whether that be in a professional or personal aspect. After having identified areas of weakness or much-needed assistance in our lives, or at the very least, coming to a place of willingness to try anything else than that which we know or think we know. We can begin to create accountability partnerships in those specific areas. These areas will be different from individual to individual. They can include;

  • Finances/money-related topics such as, but not limited to, debt, assistance, budgeting, saving and spending habits
  • Cellphone tracking apps ( as means of making our whereabouts known.)
  • Online activity tracking apps
  • Health and fitness
  • Regular group participation
  • Medication monitoring
  • Random drug testing 
  • Achieving goals

The list can go on. If there is an area in our lives that we feel we need assistance in improving going forward, accountability measures need to be put in place as a means of staying on track with our objectives as well as progressing past them.

This article contains affiliate links.

Our Recommendations:

Accountability Software (Includes free trial)

Covenant Eyes - Covenant Eyes helps you and the ones you love live porn-free through transformative accountability relationships.

Ever Accountable - Ever Accountable is scientifically-backed software that helps the whole family avoid porn and other dangers on the internet with the power of accountability.

Recovery Apps (Includes 2 month free trial)

Exodus Recovery App - This practical online tool allows you to invite Accountability Partners to access critical information about your recovery. You can share updates to your Life Recovery Plan with your Accountability partners, upload drug test results for them to view, and keep a digital record of your recovery group attendance!

Useful References:


Mpho Kamohi

Mpho Kamohi