The Importance of Honesty in Recovery

Go to any AA meeting, hear it in most 12 step meetings, and quickly come to know: recovery is a program of honesty. In the section of Chapter 5 titled “How it Works” read at the beginning of most AA meetings it is read that the 12 steps are a program of ‘rigorous’ honesty and that those who cannot participate in such a simple program perhaps do not have the capacity to be honest with themselves. Why all the emphasis on such a virtue? Honesty is the foundation of successful recovery.

Honesty can be defined as being “free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincerity”. On many levels, this applies to most addicts and alcoholics. Firstly, addiction and alcoholism tends to foster a lot of insincerity, deception and untruthfulness. As drugs and alcohol take neurobiological priority over anything else in an addict or alcoholic’s life, great character change begins to take place. Lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating are some of the lengths addicts and alcoholics go to in order to protect their disease. When the brain has been chemically altered to not just want, but need substances in order to function and survive, it will communicate that whatever is necessary be done to obtain those substances. Much like terms of indenturement, an addict and alcoholic is enslaved to obeying these commands. Looking at the word ‘free’ in the definition of honesty, one can see that being freed from the slavery of substance abuse contributes greatly to one’s capacity to be more honest. Pulled out of an endless labor to obtain and use drugs, a person is finally free to change for the better.

Secondly, honesty is what gets someone to that very critical first step in the twelve steps of recovery. Though admittance and being honest are somewhat different, coming to terms with one’s own addiction or alcoholism requires a lot of honesty, and humility. Alcoholics and addicts tried to lie to themselves as long as they could. It wasn’t that bad. They could quit if they wanted to. Everything was under control. Eventually, even their most carefully crafted lies could no longer be believed, usually in coincidence with the fact that they truly could not quit if they wanted to, and everything was not under their control anymore. Getting honest with themselves first and foremost, they realized their problem with drugs and alcohol and that their lives had indeed become quite unmanageable. Only then does honesty begin to unfold into the rest of the program as they start to get honest with others and ask for help.

We take an honest approach to recovery at The Villa Treatment Center. There’s no catch here, just getting well. To find out more about our programs of care, call 1-818-639-7160 today.