Although it may feel that some of the things you did while drinking or using should never be told to anyone, honesty in recovery is absolutely necessary if you want to maintain long-term sobriety. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. wrote, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” He also goes on to describe the AA way of life as a “manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”
You are in recovery now but are you being rigorously honest? Honesty in recovery seems difficult, especially considering the sometimes unspeakable acts you may have done in order to get the next drink or drug. It feels that no one will understand, that there is just one or two things you can get by without telling anyone. If you have committed yourself to a 12-step program, though, there is no way around it.
Rigorous honesty brings real recovery. Here are 4 reasons why.
- Honesty in recovery helps keep your ego in check.
Although some portion of the ego is necessary for everyday survival, ego run rampant is the destroyer of many addicts and alcoholics. When you are more concerned with how you appear to other people as opposed to getting honest in your sobriety efforts, you will quickly slip. It is difficult to maintain an outward appearance that is different from the way you feel on the inside. When you are unable to be honest with at least one other person it is easy for the divide between who you are on the outside and who you are on the inside to grow, potentially leading to relapse.
- Honesty is an important part of the 12 Steps.
Honesty is encouraged while working through the 12 Steps in whichever Anonymous program you attend. It is woven throughout each step but is especially important in the Step 4, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” and Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” As mentioned before, the importance of honesty is mentioned multiple times in the Big Book alone. The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous also refers to the importance of honesty: “Rigorous honesty is the most important tool we have in learning to live for today. Although honesty is difficult to practice, it is most rewarding. Honesty is the antidote to our diseased thinking.”
- By practicing honesty in recovery, you become closer to those around you.
You do not have to share intimate details of your story with every person you come across, but having a few trusted individuals with whom you can share is important. This is where a sponsor becomes incredibly beneficial. Not only will you share your Fifth Step with your sponsor, but oftentimes people consult their sponsor for assistance in daily living or larger life decisions. Getting honest with friends is also a necessity for developing deep, meaningful friendships, one of the many blessings experienced in recovery.
- Rigorous honesty helps you trust yourself.
Many people lie to themselves during active drug and alcohol addiction or downplay the seriousness of the actions they take. If get honest with yourself, you may realize you did this too. Only by being honest with yourself can you practice honesty in recovery with those around you. Begin by telling yourself the truth so that you can share your truth with those around you.
It may surprise you how freeing it feels to share openly and honestly with yourself to start and eventually with others in your life. No longer are you a slave to drugs or alcohol, and you also do not have to remain a slave to the lies you may have once told yourself. It can be a scary process in the beginning but with a true attempt, honesty in recovery is completely possible.