Nearly all programs of addiction recovery will treat the idea of honesty as a central feature of recovery. Honesty in recovery and treatment is at least a two-fold issue. We need to learn to be honest with others and we need to learn how to be completely honest with ourselves. Since addiction necessarily involves a great deal of hiding, covering up, and lying even by omission, one of the first hurdles we must go over is addressing the issue of honesty.
At a minimum, living with drug abuse and alcoholism involved hiding the drug use and drinking from others. Nearly all drug addicts and alcoholics know that what they are doing is not acceptable and they go to great lengths to hide their using from family, friends, and co-workers. This leads to duplicity and lying. A crucial feature of drug and alcohol treatment, then, is opening up to people after years of hiding from them. People in treatment and recovery are generally required to finally admit to others what they have been doing. The purpose of this is to clear the air of what can be many years of suspicion and mistrust between the addicted person and the people who are important in their life. This stage of treatment and recovery is cathartic for many. They are relieved of the burden of hiding so much of themselves form others. But it is also traumatic. Treatment programs offer counseling and psychological help during the phase of things because revealing the truth of addiction can bring some painful realities to both the recovering addict and to their families and friends
Another dimension to honesty in recovery is helping the recovering addict to be honest with themselves. There is of course the primary admission of the full extent of the problem. Most people who struggle with addiction and/or alcoholism find it difficult or nearly impossible to admit to themselves that their drinking and drug use is out of their control It is a natural form of resistance. None of us want to believe that there is a huge part of ourselves that is out of our control. Yet, it is critical for those in treatment to finally admit that alcohol and drugs are no longer a voluntary art of their lives. They are, in fact, controlled by their substances. Being completely honest with themselves about these facts is the first step toward recovery. Giving in to the fact that they have the disease of addiction allows addicted people to be properly treated.
Honesty in recovery works in at least two directions in drug and alcohol treatment. One admits to others the realities of what they have been doing. The mistrust that has built up, mistrust that can go back many years for some, can be healed by these kinds of admissions. It is often the case that family, friends, and co-workers have no idea what a person has been doing. Worry, fear, and resentment builds along with the deceptions of the addict. By clearing the air and being honest, a person in recovery can begin to mend these rifts. Alcoholics and drug addicts lie to themselves first and foremost and this self-deception must be the first course of real honesty. By being completely honest with themselves, people who suffer from addiction can get the real help they need.
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