Responsible Recovery

As a recovering co-dependent, I want to maintain a healthy sense of adult responsibility for my choices—including my decision to recover and solve my problems in a healthy way.

Here are some examples of irresponsible recovery (some from personal experience):

  • Abusing recovery slogans and principles. For instance, interpreting and misapplying "Let Go and Let God" in a fatalistic sense. Suppose I need to find a job. Instead of pounding the pavement, networking, circulating my resume, etc., I sit on my couch in front of the TV all day, waiting for God to supply me with a job.
  • Using the principle of detachment as an excuse for abandoning my spouse and children. "I just couldn't take another day in that situation, so I had to detach."
  • Using recovery as a means of getting my needs met.
  • Going to recovery meetings and so dominating the sharing time that no one else gets time to speak. Or, rather than exploring my own issues and finding my own solutions, I talk exclusively about my abusive spouse, whine about the unfairness of life in general, or give unsolicited, subtle, or insensitive advice to others. Or, I only attend meetings because I think it will help someone else.
  • Transferring my addiction to recovery from drugs, alcohol, work, sex, religion, credit cards, pornography, or people. Using recovery to escape from my feelings or to deny responsibility for the problems in my life or in my relationships.
  • Going through the motions of recovery only as a social outlet.
  • Going to six meetings a week and neglecting my children or spouse. Spending excessively on recovery books and workshops. Becoming emotionally unavailable because I am focused on "working my program."
  • Abusing the group phone list by extending my telephone addiction to include group members. Using the phone list to solicit for a network marketing business. Using the phone list to find someone to date.
  • Expecting my sponsor to wallow in self-pity with me. Calling my sponsor once every hour because I'm having a "really bad day."
  • Spending excessive and inordinate amounts of time surfing the web for recovery sites and/or topics, IRC chats, building a recovery web site, running a recovery mailing list, or writing about recovery topics.
  • Ignoring the Twelve Steps.

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Responsible recovery is:

  • A conscious choice to love myself, practice healthy self-esteem, and be a source of support for others as I work through my feelings, solve my problems, and explore my core issues.
  • Taking my own personal moral inventory, holding myself accountable for my time, my actions, and my motives.
  • Making the decision to change what I can about myself, and attaining a sustained measure of serenity.
  • Maintaining a proper balance between my other life activities and working my recovery program.
  • Building clean, healthy relationships based on principles of good communication, being emotionally available, and creating a safe atmosphere of acceptance, compassion, support, nurturing, and love.
  • An adult process of learning to recognize and practice healthy self-love, self-growth, self-discovery, and self-acceptance.

Responsible recovery is not about "getting" or "taking." It is about learning to supply my own needs; learning how to give—primarily to myself first. Then, from the abundance of my healthy self-love and self-esteem, I can give the unconditional gifts of nurturing, support, acceptance, and clean communication to others.

next: Self-Love

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 28). Responsible Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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