Many people struggle with quitting drugs and alcohol largely because they are stuck in denial. For some, it is hard to admit that their addiction is a problem. Even if their finances and family relationships suffer due to addiction, many choose self-deception instead of honesty. For others, personal freedom and choice are barriers to accountability. This hyper-individualism allows them to turn a blind eye to the harmful effects of substances.
Honesty and transparency with oneself and others are critical for a person’s treatment process as well as long-term recovery from substance use. Honesty and transparency are so essential that the 12-step program, originated by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), uses them as one foundational step for recovery.
Honesty as a Guiding Principle in Recovery
Honesty is the first of the twelve steps in addiction recovery. Once an addict or alcoholic accepts treatment, they take an important step by acknowledging their addiction and its devastating effects. As AA guidelines put it, one ought to admit being in a powerless state in order to regain strength. This very first step reboots honesty for both the addicted person and supportive family and friends.
Honesty is practically a precondition for maintaining sobriety. A lack of honesty can keep an addict in denial and continue the cycle of addiction. If they are not honest with themselves, there is no motivation to recognize triggers or discontinue the use of drugs and alcohol. They also may not take well to an accountability partner who might point out their harmful ways. Over time, one begins to wear a mask of defense against well-intentioned warnings from family and friends.
Lack of honesty and transparency can make it difficult for family and friends to trust the person struggling with addiction. This is a common situation that many experience because honesty and trust go hand in hand. Let’s face it: honesty and transparency are difficult because they put people in a very vulnerable state. It takes great humility to be honest about addiction. But that step towards humility is absolutely necessary.
Transparency With Your Support Group
One of the most transformative things for someone to go through during recovery is to become a member of an authentically transparent support group, either through therapy or counseling groups like the 12-step program. Many people who have gone through these programs can testify to the healing power of transparency and mutual trust. Being honest with each other provides an opportunity to support one another. Hearing the truth from a recovering peer who is going through similar struggles as one’s own is extremely powerful. That sense of loneliness and disconnect that comes from addiction can be gradually healed as one connects with a supportive group of people who understand one’s struggles.
Addiction recovery requires a person to be honest, and what better place to practice honesty than in a group of people who have experienced many of the same things? The lack of honesty can blind one to many triggers around them. Lying and deception can be direct triggers, too. They are signs that someone is engaging in old habits again to obtain drugs and alcohol. Only the person struggling knows their true state of being and whether they are making progress or not. Being dishonest about recovery progress can further damage the trust your family and friends have invested in the one recovering.
How to Increase Honesty in Recovery
All good traits take practice, honesty being one of them. First, one must realize the importance of honesty for recovery and the dangers of dishonesty. Secondly, one should create strategies to fight dishonesty, just as they’d try to fight off cravings and triggers. A journal is a safe space where one can be totally honest with themselves without fear of judgment. It also provides a way for them to look back and assess their progress.
Maintaining honesty is a mark of wellness on its own. When a person is honest, they do not need to worry about hiding things. The stress and anxiety that accompany lying and self-deception will vanish. When substance addiction begets habitual lying, it is important to remedy that by practicing more honesty. Here are a few practical strategies someone struggling with addiction can practice:
- Recognize and identify the situations when one feels the urge to lie or self-deceive. Rather than feeling ashamed about it, understand that when one realizes those things and is willing to depart from that kind of stress it is a huge step in the right direction.
- Work with a trusted therapist to work on honesty in relationships. In a safe space, allow the therapist to help the one struggling find out why they have been dishonest in the past.
Honesty is an essential part of sustained recovery. By taking an honest look at your behaviors and the effects they have had on people around you, you can commit to positive change. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we understand the emotions that people in recovery go through. Dishonesty or shame are often common experiences within the recovery community, but many of our staff members have been where you are now. We will support you in facing complicated emotions like guilt and shame as a result of addiction-related dishonesty. Our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can help you build a strong support network. We have inpatient and outpatient programs that address a range of mental health issues. Our residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and custom treatment plans. You can count on us to guide you towards more honesty and transparency. Call us at (866) 906-3203.
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