Accountability in Relationships

Accountability as a Foundation for Recovery

Relationships are the foundation of human society. They take a wide variety of forms and have an impact on essentially all aspects of our lives. The way we conduct ourselves in close relationships is especially important. Certain actions can strengthen your bond to others. You can also do things that weaken those bonds. One of the major supports of any positive accountability in relationships.

Addiction tends to have a serious and damaging effect on your relationships. This damage can make it harder for you to stop abusing drugs or alcohol. It can also make it harder for you to make progress in your recovery. By making yourself more accountable to others, you can begin to heal your relationships. In this way, you can also increase the odds that you will be able to get sober and stay sober.

What Is Accountability

Accountability is an aspect of responsibility. It is based on an understanding that what you do affects other people. In every relationship, you have the choice to accept this reality or not accept it. When you make yourself accountable, you take responsibility for the way you treat others. You also take responsibility for the impact your actions have on others. This impact may be obvious beforehand. However, you may not always know what will happen when you make certain choices in everyday life. Nevertheless, accountability still means accepting the consequences of what you have done.

The Importance of Accountability in Relationships

At their core, all functional personal relationships depend on accountability in one way or another. That is true for:

  • Parents and their children
  • Intimate partners
  • Friends

This accountability may flow mostly in one direction. For example, parents bear responsibility for their young children, who lack the ability to make the same commitment. However, for older children, teenagers, and adults, accountability is usually mutual. This means that both parties have at least some responsibility for maintaining the relationship.

Why is accountability so important? One major reason is that it creates bonds of trust. When you take responsibility for your actions toward someone, you give them a reason to trust you. In turn, you also give them a reason to treat you with the same consideration. Accountability is also crucial in creating reliable support networks for daily life. Human society is deeply social. From birth, we count on others to help sustain our well-being. Effective social support makes it easier for you to achieve all kinds of important external goals. It also helps you maintain your physical and emotional health. Support networks not based on mutual accountability are not likely to last for long. On the other hand, accountability-based networks are often fixtures of healthy relationships.


Accountability in Intimate Relationships

Accountability in relationships can be especially important in intimate partnerships. Couples often live deeply intertwined lives. Bonds between them can form in many different ways, including things such as:

  • Having sex
  • Confiding in each other
  • Living together in the same household
  • Sharing financial responsibilities
  • Getting married
  • Having and raising children

When relationships are on good terms, these bonds can be a tremendous source of comfort. However, when relationships on not on good terms, they can be a source of tremendous strain and stress.

Couples’ counselors sometimes refer to something called relational accountability. In this kind of accountability, intimate partners do not only see themselves as individuals with their own agendas. In addition, they see themselves in a fundamental way through the eyes of their partners. This perspective acknowledges the vulnerability that comes with intimate relationships. It also acknowledges the deep bonds of responsibility between intimate partners.

Addiction and Loss of Accountability

Substance abuse and addiction take their toll in a number of different ways. One common consequence is a drop in the quality of your relationships. Why does this happen? People with substance problems tend to do certain things that are damaging to relationships. Examples of these things include:

  • Not fulfilling important obligations at work or at home
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol even when relationships suffer as a result
  • Making substance use a central focus of everyday life

In their own way, these are all signs of the connection between addiction and loss of accountability.

It is probably not surprising that unhappiness is common in relationships affected by addiction. In fact, relationship satisfaction in this situation tends to be much lower than average. And it can fall even lower over time. Partners of people with substance problems often have to cope with a mix of volatile emotions, including:

  • A sense of betrayal
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Fear
  • Helplessness

As a rule, lack of accountability from the addicted person contributes to these strong feelings. Corrosive effects of being in this kind of situation can include:

  • Recurring verbal arguments
  • Episodes of violence
  • Breakups
  • Divorce

Accountability as a Recovery Cornerstone

What role does accountability play in your recovery from addiction? Experts view it as an essential part of the process. Much of that accountability falls upon you. It includes such things as:

  • Taking an active part in your recovery
  • Supporting your health and well-being through self-care
  • Accepting the consequences of your past actions

However, effective treatment does not happen in a vacuum. This means that others must also act responsibly in support of your recovery efforts. Family is often central to those efforts. That is why family therapy is frequently a part of substance treatment. Effective therapy helps you work out serious issues affecting your family. In this way, it also helps you reestablish trust and accountability.

In addition, community accountability can be crucial. Community involvement often takes the form of a mutual support group. Membership in this kind of group not only allows you to get help from peers who understand your situation. It also creates ties of accountability between you and your peers.

Mental Health Treatment and Accountability

What about the connection between mental health treatment and accountability? This is not actually a different issue than addiction and accountability. Why not? By modern definition, addiction is a form of mental illness. The specific name for this illness is substance use disorder.

Just like addiction, other serious mental health conditions require treatment. In some cases, affected people may have problems that make it harder for them to act responsibly. However, this does not mean that accountability does not exist. As much as possible, each person in treatment should be active in their own recovery. This is a key to laying the foundation for a return to mental wellness.

Clear Communications for Lasting Connections

Clear communications are essential to lasting personal connections. This is true if you are affected by addiction or another mental health issue. It is also true if you are the parent, friend, adult child or partner an affected person. Maintaining good communications can take a lot of work. At times, you may question the benefits of the effort. But rest assured, lasting connections tend to pay lasting dividends.


Seeking Professional Advice When Needed

Addiction and other mental health issues can create serious barriers to accountability. If you are affected by these issues, you may find maintaining responsibility difficult or impossible. That can be true even when you desperately want to do so.

But with knowledgeable help, barriers to accountability can be overcome. This is why seeking professional advice when needed is so important. An addiction or mental health professional can help you uncover the underlying reasons for your relationship difficulties. These experts can also provide the treatment needed to address the problems affecting you.

Turn to Emerald Isle for Support in Addiction and Mental Health Recovery

When addiction is properly treated, its effects begin to ease. The more you recover, the greater your ability to control your behavior. In turn, when you regain control, you can begin once again to take responsibility for your actions.

It is no easy matter to hold yourself accountable for what you have done under the influence of addiction. For most people in recovery, this is something that requires both courage and plenty of help from others. It may be a truly daunting task. But it is the best possible way to start rebuilding trust with your loved ones.

Need help rebuilding relationships damaged by addiction or mental health issues? Turn to the treatment experts at Emerald Isle. We feature customized care for all forms of drug and alcohol addiction. And we provide the same high level of care for people affected by other mental illnesses.

We understand how addiction affects relationships. We also understand the kinds of help you need to rebuild these crucial connections to your loved ones. One of the core services at Emerald Isle is family therapy. This therapy allows you to address the specific issues affecting your close relationships. It also provides your loved ones with the same opportunity.

In this way, family therapy helps you take vital steps toward restoring accountability. It also helps you enlist your loved ones as allies in your recovery process. To learn more about how we can help call us today.

  1. North Dakota State University: Toward a Theory of Relational Accountability: An Invitational Approach to Living Narrative Ethics in Couple Relationships
  2. American Journal of Psychiatry: DSM-5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders – Recommendations and Rationale
  3. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery – 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery; Pages 6 and 7
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment – A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition); Page 58
  6. American Psychiatric Association: What Is a Substance Use Disorder?