There are many ways people with addictions avoid accountability. Here is the first of several articles discussing these tactics. These tactics are what addicts and alcoholics use to to take the focus off them and continue doing what their addiction wants them to do. These tactics are used by our addiction to keep us trapped and a slave to substances and behaviors that are ruining our lives. We must learn about them and how to stop using them. If you recognize something in yourself in these tactics then you can learn how to stop using them to avoid accountability.

1. Pointing out other people’s inadequacies – I have seen this a lot over the years and I’m sure you have also. When confronted about behaviors and attitudes addicts quickly turn the tables around and put the blame back on others around them. This takes the focus off of them and puts it where they want it. This works a lot of the time and so they continue to use this tactic. That is, until people catch on and realize what they are doing. Then, they can confront this which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. What we need to do is learn how we use this tactic and stop it from the inside. That means we have to stop it ourselves. We have to choose not to point out others faults whether they are real faults or not. We need to focus on changing ourselves and this requires us to stop looking at the faults of others and really examining ourselves with the goal of correcting our own faults and behaviors. The AA Big Book call them “character defects,” no matter what you call them they are a tool that our addictions use to keep us enslaved.

2. Building ourselves up by putting others down – This is a tactic that is often used by bullies. The truth is our addictions often make bullies of us. We end up doing many things to protect our addiction that we would never do otherwise. We say and do things that hurt the people we love for the purpose of protecting and continuing our addiction. Addiction is a bully—it destroys us and hurts those around us. We have to make the choice to stop the insanity. We have to stop hurting the people we love. It is hard. It takes time. Make the decision and stick to it. If you fail and say things that hurt other go and apologize and then recommit yourself to changing this character defect.

3. Telling others what they want to hear and not what is true – Every person who is addicted knows how to do this. Here is a scenario: someone confronts us about something we have done. We defend ourselves. It becomes an argument. We see an easy way out of the argument by agreeing to what they are saying knowing full well we have absolutely no intentions of doing it. We say it just to get them off our backs. OK, does that sound familiar? Of course, this is just one of many ways this could play out in someone’s life. My guess is that many, if not most of you could relate to the situation. We have to stop lying to get others to leave us alone. The truth is, we really need to stop the behaviors that probably brought the whole topic up in the first place. I am reminded of a saying of Jesus that speaks to this issue. In Matthew 5:37 Jesus says:

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

This is from the Sermon on the Mount and I think He hits home with our topic. He is talking about swearing that something is true to prove your point. But, I think there is more truth to be found in this statement. Addicts often say “yes” when they really mean “no.” We agree to things we don’t really agree with because it serves our purpose at the moment. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. When you say yes, mean it and when you say no, mean it. Whatever you say, be honest and mean it. Jesus finishes the sentence with “anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” I believe this is also true. Anything but the truth comes from the evil one and our addiction certainly brings a lot of evil into our lives.

No matter what you believe about Jesus or God there is no doubt that addictive thinking and behaviors have been the source of many problems for you or you wouldn’t be here reading this now.

To stop this we need to make a commitment to ourselves and the people we love to be honest. We will slip and fail but we must quickly renew our commitment and make amends. Lasting change doesn’t happen to us we make it happen through a lot of effort.

Next article will have at least 3 more ways we avoid accountability.



Author's Bio: 

Tim has a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has 20 years of experience as a therapist working with mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders.

Tim states, "I am very passionate about living a balanced, healthy life in recovery since I know the benefits in my life and struggles with additive behaviors."