Honesty means being aware of the truth. For a person to implement honesty into their life, they need to admit, accept and respond to the truth around them. It is also an essential part of an addict’s recovery process as its effects can help people leading them to a clean and sober lifestyle.
In the same way honesty is integral to recovery, denial is just as an intrinsic aspect in active addiction, which is, when a person is still using drugs and alcohol. Although lying and denial may sound as though they are the same, they are actually two distinct notions. When a person lies, they are doing so intentionally and consciously but when a person is in denial, they believe that they are telling the truth.
Denial is primarily a defense mechanism, meaning that its function is to protect the person from becoming aware of something that may cause them pain and emotional turmoil. Since this defense mechanism is unconscious, unless a person becomes aware that they are in denial, they would not be able to start working on it during their recovery process.
Accepting that you are an addict can be a very difficult process because you might be afraid of the stigma related with addiction or that people will perceive you as weak-willed. A person might also be hesitant of accepting their addiction because the idea of total abstinence and accepting that they have no control over their addiction is too difficult to accept. Denial plays a major part in addiction, which is why honesty is equally as important in recovery.
While being honest with the people around us is important, being honest with ourselves is even more so. In order to do this, one would need to be objective and rational. A person will achieve self-honesty once they are able to accept and love themselves in their true nature. Self-honesty is not an easy thing to do as it requires us to acknowledge the things we would much rather forget. It is also not something that will take place overnight and in order to do it, one needs to put aside all the things they wish for themselves because this will enable them to see a clear picture of who they truly are as a person.
The principle of honesty is also the foundation of the 12 Step Program as several of the steps focus on honesty with ourselves, with others and with our Higher Power. In fact, honesty is crucial in the First Step because this is when the addict admits that they have become powerless over their addiction and life has become unmanageable. The saying that “we’re only as sick as our secrets” also has a significant purpose in the 12 Step Program because keeping secrets and being dishonest is a big impediment in recovery.
Unless a person truly looks at their addiction with honesty, they will not be able to realize that their addiction has grown beyond their control. By being able to admit this, a person will be able to start moving forward and regain control over their lives as they break through the cycle of denial and addiction. This is the first step towards recovery.