Honesty in Recovery
NOTE: Honesty in recovery and treatment is important to be able share honestly in group therapy meetings and with your counsellor in order to get the appropriate support needed to stay clean and sober.
Henk Nagel talks about Honesty in Recovery on Hope Radio, click here
But why is Honesty a fundamental foundation of recovery from addiction?
Dishonesty can easily lead to relapse
"Recovering addicts tend to take honesty to an extreme level, unlike most people"
There is a good reason for this - Dishonesty is closely related to Denial. Denial is the mental defense mechanism that protects the addiction. The disease of addiction hijacks our brain and our defenses normally used for survival. Our reward center in the brain makes us feel good when we do things that support our survival but addiction corrupts this system and the addiction becomes our priority. Some addicts believe that the addiction helped them cope through tough times so did help them survive in a perverted way, however then the addiction crossed a line and started to kill them.
Whatever the case addiction is a fatal condition or behavior so a rigorous recovery is necessary to survive. Complete and total honesty protects us from slipping back into denial. Firstly we have to admit to ourselves we are addicts and take responsibility for it, stop blaming or justifying.
Honesty in Recovery Is Important Because......
The first step to recovery is being honest with ourselves about our addiction - that is why we say rehab at Hope is an honest program.
"Dishonesty, lying and stealing was a way of life – I thought I did it to survive and that’s how I justified it. But my biggest lie was to myself “I will never amount to anything” It kept my self-esteem at rock bottom and my addiction the only option. Now I accept my reality and don’t try to change it or avoid consequences by cheating. The truth will set an addict free, as they say in recovery"
Addicts often have control issues - So lying and manipulating could go on in their recoveries. Using drugs and alcohol is controlling how we feel – thit is a form of control. In order to resolve these dangerous control issues we hand it over and practice faith. Lying or manipulating to get results is not letting go of control.
Dishonesty is a lack of acceptance - we are manipulating reality. By accepting this dishonesty, we fuel are addiction - this is the easy route over challenging our denial and dishonesty and undertaking the big task of changing our belief system and starting on the road to recovery.
"Honesty has given me far greater gifts than any of my dishonesty in life"
Secrets keep you sick
It could be that some of us have held on to “damaging secrets” due to shame or vulnerability however these hidden parts of us may be driving our addiction – Self medication is a common trigger or reason for addictions.
Honesty is essential for a healthy sustainable recovery - it challenges our addict denial system also some other reasons for our emphasis on honesty here at Hope include:
- Karma – everything comes back to you
- One small lie can lead to more and more lies
- Dishonesty leads to guilt and guilt is a relapse trigger
- The truth is enough – you are enough
- Believing in ones self – self-esteem improves
- Not perpetuating Denial – addiction hides in denial
- Being assertive – others can sense a lie
The Stress of Lying
The psychologist Richard Lazarus talked about positive denial as a defence mechanism that helps to manage pain, anxiety and stress, e.g., being optimistic even when faced with a life-threatening disease or grief. The disease of addiction has corrupted this defence and now uses it to protect the addiction – not the addict. There is a conscious denial, lying, and hiding and many other unconscious denial types. Like the rest of the brain, the addict's mental defences have been hijacked.
“Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours” ASAM
Rehab at Hope Involves an Honest Program
Rehab at Hope is an what we call an honest program, because it is usually the lies that protect and fuel addiction.
"Its my life"
"I am only hurting myself"
"Everybody is doing it"
"I can't cope without it"
With verbal lies the addict tells themselves to justify their using, also lies to hide the addiction from loved ones and colleagues. The non-verbal lies of cheating, stealing and manipulating sustain also the addiction. The skill of deception and manipulation protects the addiction, deceiving ones self and others of its severity.
In recovery we require rigorous honesty in order to admit the extent of our addiction. We accept honesty. We also accept and surrender to the idea that our way has not worked for us - this promotes ego deflation. Surrender means moving over to the winning side.
The decision to be honest is just the beginning, it can be scary but also liberating to let go of denial and the dishonest behaviour that comes with addiction. Committing to rigorous honesty is a challenge, but the rewards make it worth the effort. It will take time to earn the respect and trust of people we may have hurt in our addiction, but through the consistency of working a recovery program, and meeting commitments, we can begin to rebuild and build stronger relationships.
"It will take time to earn the respect and trust of people"
The days when we feel our lowest and a loved one asks the simple question “how are you?” by answering “fine” rather than honestly stating our true feelings we protect our addiction and build a barrier that holds us back from the possible hope of help that loved one could lend if we surrender to the truth. We are not fine.
A common sign of relapse, before using, is a slip back into the old dishonesty. Letting negative emotions build and not talking about them with loved ones or at meetings. By not honestly expressing how we feel or our struggles we play a dangerous game. It’s an effective coping strategy that kept the addict in addiction. Honesty is an integral part of recovery and relapse prevention.
It is vital for self esteem to be accepted for who you really are. One of the most important aspects of living a healthy life is your ability to share your true self with the world around you. With rigorous honesty in recovery we get to know and love our authentic selves. We are only as sick as our secrets. Remember, rehab at Hope is an honest program.
‘No legacy is so rich as honesty’ Shakespeare
Honesty in recovery by Simon and Lianne