The Sober Life: Will You Accept Sober Responsibility?


The quote “With great power must come great responsibility” may have originated as recently as the twentieth century, though many attribute it to the eighteenth-century philosopher Voltaire. Long before that, Jesus said, “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48, King James Bible). Your sober responsibility lies somewhere between those statements.

In any words and any era, the principle holds true: if you have a high level of intelligence, talent, money, or health, you’ll be expected to donate some of it to the benefit of others. The lottery winner gets asked for help with financial needs; the organizing genius gets asked to be on the committee; and the business leader gets asked to sponsor every special event in the area.

Of course, you don’t have to stand out from the crowd to qualify for more sober responsibility than you’re sure you want. Just being a normal, healthy adult will ensure that you’re expected to hold a steady job, pay a fair share of the larger world’s expenses, and do a fair share of the work for anything you get involved in.

That’s why teenagers and twenty-somethings have mixed feelings about transitioning to “normal, healthy adult”—it sounds great to answer to no one about how late you stay out or how you spend your money, until it becomes clear that you’re expected to earn that money yourself. And that you’ll have to answer to an employer about when you show up, to a utility company about how much electricity you use, and to a bank about how much money you really have available. Nearly everyone on the edge of adulthood goes through a period of trying to salvage the dream “I do exactly as I please and Dad takes care of the more boring needs and problems.”

A few people never outgrow it. There are fifty-year-old bachelors still sleeping late in Mom’s apartment until called for the breakfast she cooked. Most people, though, are ashamed to shun all responsibility without a reasonable excuse—and illness, physical or mental, is the best excuse anyone could ask for. Many doctors say that the majority of illnesses are psychosomatic—involving people who are sick because, on some level, they want to be. Sure, it hurts to be sick, but it looks more painful to accept the sober responsibility of being healthy.

This applies to behavioral substance abuse as much as to any other illness. Certainly, the first step of recovery is admitting that you can’t handle this alone. But that surrender opens the door to being granted sober responsibility for things you may not want to handle. Are you brave enough to admit:

I Am Responsible for My Thoughts

About less-than-healthy thoughts that pop into your head, Martin Luther said, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair!” We all have times of discouragement where it seems plausible that “Nothing ever goes right for me” or “I’m hopeless; I haven’t a chance of ever seeing things get any better.” The question is, are you willing to accept sober responsibility for letting such thoughts roll by and continue on out of sight, or will you invite them to sit down for a pity party while you review everything that’s gone wrong (and only the things that have gone wrong) over the past month?

I Am Responsible for My Attitudes

No one really “makes you mad” (or upset or worried or depressed), nor is anyone else responsible for “making” you happy or satisfied. If you’re determined to be upset, nothing anyone does for you will be good enough. If you’re willing to fill yourself with positive thoughts, you’ll feel great amid everyday circumstances, and more than adequate during tough times.

I Am Responsible for My Words

The world is full of people who not only speak without thinking, but assume full license to insult—in every possible forum in every conceivable word—the intelligence and integrity of anyone they disagree with. But taking responsibility for your words goes beyond not following that example. If you constantly complain to anyone who will listen about how bad things are for you and how much worse the world is getting, you only become an accomplice in contributing to the downward slope. Give others and yourself a verbal hand upward, instead. If that habit looks awfully hard to develop, a good place to start is to pay a compliment to everyone you meet tomorrow.

I Am Responsible for My Actions

Actions are the end results of all the above—the outward expression of the inner you. Responsibility means never using the words “I was driven to it.” No matter how hard life is to take, you have choices besides running from it through substance abuse. Are you willing to quit taking the easy way out, and work long and hard to make things better?

That’s the number one reason people shun responsibility: it’s a lot of hard work. And it always looks hardest in the view from the beginning of the trail. Are you willing to take that first step and get up some momentum, pledging to stay the course and find the life you were really made for?

If you do, you’ll soon prove to your own satisfaction that the rewards of responsibility are more than worth the effort.

Your Sober Responsibility and Kemah Palms

There’s nothing more fulfilling than taking care of your responsibilities. Through Kemah Palms’ substance abuse treatment programs and addiction therapy services, you’ll be motivated to achieve anything as you embark on your life of sobriety. Call Kemah Palms at 855-568-0218 today for more information.