Accountable to Recovery

By The Fix staff 03/04/19
Having a community to hold you to your word is instrumental in recovery.
Group of smiling men in blue shirts, Recovery Ranch sober living for men

People who are active in their addictions lie. They cheat. They steal. And often they wiggle their way out of accountability for their actions, dodging and weaving to avoid the consequences that would leave them face-to-face with the destruction that their substance abuse has caused.

That’s why at Recovery Ranch accountability is a critical part of learning to live a productive, sober life. The men’s sober living program, which provides structured sober support for men in early recovery, helps by surrounding recovering addicts with peers who will hold them accountable, even when that process is painful, says Dave Martz, intake manager at Recovery Ranch.

“Accountability is the core of our recovery at the Ranch,” Martz says. “It is the means by which we help each other take responsibility and ownership for our actions and make the necessary changes to our behavior that lead to quality recovery.”

Often, this is a drastic change for the young men who come to the ranch. Most of them arrive at the ranch with deep character flaws that can be addressed only with brutal honesty.

“Our character defects are what lead us to using drugs,” Martz says. “We are dishonest, disrespectful, lazy, selfish, and ungrateful people; getting sober doesn’t change that.”

 Usually these men have never been held responsible, by themselves or their loved ones. 

“Accountability is an important part of recovery because we addicts rarely have any decent standard that we live by,” Martz says. “Any standard that we wish to adhere to, we are unable or unwilling to hold ourselves accountable to.”

That’s part of the reality of being powerless over substances. At the ranch, taking a direct approach to accountability is part of working the 12 steps and learning to function sober. Men learn to be accountable to the others they are living with and working with at the businesses that the ranch runs. This helps them transform from addicts into gentlemen at the ranch and learn to be productive members of society.

“What changes that is having people around us who care enough to say something to us whenever we behave in those ways, and that is what we have at the Ranch,” Martz says. “We hold each other accountable by adhering to a standard of living and speaking to each other with brutal honesty. This is how we care for each other. We do not sugar coat our situations, we don’t feel sorry for each other, and we don’t let each other fail.”

Men at the ranch have made the decision to get sober, but most still don’t know how to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Instead, the group is able to step in and help guide them.

“Before we build a solid foundation in recovery, most of us cannot hold ourselves accountable,” Martz says. “If we knew how to do that, we wouldn’t need to hit rock bottom before we decide to do something different with our lives. We need help. We need someone else to hold us accountable before we can take on that responsibility ourselves.”

Initially, men at the ranch might push back against being held accountable for the first time ever.

“When we are in our addiction, we live without accountability for our actions,” Martz says. “Anyone who tries to hold us accountable, usually the ones who care about us the most, we resent and blame. When we feel there are no consequences for our actions and we have no standard to live by, we have no meaning in our life; when we have no meaning in our life, we get loaded.”

However, over time men at the ranch realize that their peers hold them accountable because they love them and want to see them succeed in sobriety. This can help them stay sober for the long-term.

“Recovery is only strong when it is shared,” Martz says. “The strength of my recovery is in the relationships I have built with the people around me who have walked through the same struggles that I have. These relationships are strong because of accountability.”

The Recovery Ranch provides structured sober living for men in Santa Ynez, California. Get more information by visiting the website or calling 805-705-0766.

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