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The Importance of Honesty and Accountability During Addiction Recovery


addict being honest in addiction recovery support group

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.

Honesty and accountability are arguably the two most important needs in order for a person to recover from a substance use disorder successfully.

Being honest is more than just telling the truth. It is also being real and genuine both with yourself and those around you. It is showing up and being truthful in your relationships — especially your relationship with yourself. Honesty isn’t always easy, but it is critical in order to achieve and maintain recovery.

Honesty Includes Accountability

Accountability means taking ownership of your decisions, acknowledging and correcting your mistakes, and answering to those who have been affected by your actions. Accountability also means being held responsible for meeting goals and fulfilling obligations.

While honesty towards others is important, no one can hope to recover unless they learn to be honest with themselves and acknowledge their addiction — and hold themselves accountable for their actions. Step one of Alcoholics Anonymous is probably the hardest and most brutally honest admission anyone would ever have to make: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” This applies to every addiction. Being completely honest with yourself is vital to recovery. Once you recognize and accept the problem, you will be able to solve it.

Dishonesty and Addiction: A Destructive Coping Skill

After completing detox you’ll probably realize that staying clean means more than just abstinence. The dishonesty that comes along with addiction is a destructive coping skill that helps addicts continue their substance use. It is not a moral failing. This learned behavior, and other negative behaviors, will last for a while — it will take conscious effort to “unlearn” them. Falling back on dishonesty may be a sign that the recovering addict feels it is easier to hide from a challenge than face it, and is no longer making progress.

Addiction robs you of the one person you should be able to trust fully — yourself. It takes away your self-control, self-esteem, and sense of morality. Honesty will help you find all of those things and more, and help you regain trust in yourself. Only then can you rebuild the relationships your addiction has damaged. Re-earning their trust is hard, but how can you convince others to trust you again if you cannot trust yourself?

If you lie to yourself or others, even about small things, negative feelings will build. Being dishonest can cause guilt, stress, and anxiety — all common relapse triggers. Dishonesty, even lies of omission, will isolate you by strengthening the barriers between you and the people who are trying to help. Anyone in recovery needs a supportive social network of family, friends, and peers, and dishonesty will break that network before it even forms.

Building Trust Through Honesty and Openness

Be honest with your family and friends. Tell them the truth about what you’ve been through and what you are currently experiencing. Don’t deny the impact your addiction has had on their lives. Honesty and openness will help to bridge the gap.

If being honest about some things is awkward, practice with a trusted friend or speak with your recovery support group or twelve-step program — they’ve had to learn the same lessons. Support groups are a safe place to learn honesty as everyone is experiencing the same things and will not judge. Understanding how others have used honesty and accountability to repair their lives and relationships provides both hope and guidance.

Be Accountable: Take Ownership Of Your Recovery

Along with honesty, accountability is necessary to reach recovery. Not only must you admit that there is an addiction problem, but you must also accept personal responsibility for that problem — and for overcoming it. You are responsible for your actions and choices. Do not blame anyone or anything else. Recovery only begins when you take ownership of the problem and make the commitment to change. Accountability and honesty build the self-esteem and strength that are needed for recovery.

Lack of accountability is a problem. When people don’t take responsibility for their actions, they are more likely to make excuses than progress. It also damages relationships when promises are broken or obligations are not met. Accountability is important for rebuilding trust and keeping a strong support network that can provide help, understanding, and support when needed.

Make Honesty A Habit

Honesty needs to become a habit. It takes practice, accountability, and consistency. Accountability reinforces your commitment to sobriety and can help develop healthy habits.

Once the journey has started, the addict is truly the only person who has control of the ultimate result. If you work hard and stay on the path, at the end of your journey you’ll be able to honestly hold yourself accountable for your success.

Ready To Get Honest?

Honesty and accountability are crucial elements of addiction recovery. Being honest with oneself and others about the addiction and its impact can be difficult, but it is a necessary step towards healing and moving forward. Accountability helps to maintain the commitment to sobriety and the progress made in recovery. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease and recovery is a lifelong journey, and honesty and accountability should be maintained throughout this journey. By being honest and accountable, you can rebuild trust with yourself and others, and ultimately lead fulfilling and successful lives in sobriety.

Contact us today to talk to one of our recovery experts.

Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.

Dr. Saeed is a psychiatry specialist with over 40 years of experience in the medical field. He received training in General Psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he was selected as the Medical Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He currently serves as the medical director at Into Action Recovery Centers. Full Bio

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