Honesty in Recovery

Estimated reading time: 30 minute(s)

It is common for people struggling with underlying alcohol or drug addictions to lie and practice dishonesty. Some of them may hide their substance use from family members and friends, while others may try to hide it from themselves by denying it altogether. Regardless of the dishonesty a person is practicing, remember that it can negatively affect the recovery progress, slow it down, or even derail someone from it entirely and send them into a relapse.

As per addiction experts, moving away from lying, denial, and secrecy is imperative to continue living a sober, substance-free life. Being honest is the key to avoiding relapses, establishing supportive and stronger relationships, and maintaining progressive growth. It also lays a solid foundation for a sober, highly productive lifestyle away from mental illnesses and other health problems related to substance abuse.

Why Do People Practice Dishonesty in Recovery?

There can be many reasons why a person in recovery may start practicing dishonestly. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Many people fear the consequences of their actions and may lie to save themselves from them.
  • Dishonesty can sometimes produce specific desirable economic and social outcomes. Hence, some people may use it as a tool to fulfill their desires.
  • For some reason, lying becomes a habit. The more they practice, the more likely they are to continue doing it. Eventually, they slip into a permanent habit of practicing dishonesty to the extent that it becomes an automatic response.
  • Sometimes, people lie to protect other people from something. While such types of lies may be justifiable, they may promote dishonesty in a person.
  • Many addicts continue to lie without putting much thought into this behavior. This is usually because most such people are self-deluded and cannot see the truth. Even people who have given up drugs and alcohol may become self-deluded in the future and start practicing dishonesty.

Evaluating The Dangers of Dishonesty in Recovery

Being dishonest during addiction recovery may prove dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Dishonesty can serve as a common relapse trigger, forcing individuals to adopt the old, harmful coping mechanisms involving drugs to deal with daily life.
  • If a friend or a family member finds out about an addict’s dishonest behavior, it may ruin all the progress they may have mutually made in their relationships.
  • Many rehab programs, especially the ones following the 12-step approach, require patients to practice rigorous honesty. Dishonesty can make them unfit to continue the program.
  • People currently enrolled in individual or group therapy must practice honesty. Otherwise, these sessions cannot fully benefit them.
  • Honesty helps people heal, whereas dishonesty can interrupt this healing process.
  • Many people are stuck in long-term addictions because they are too afraid to be open and honest and admit the root causes. When such people let self-deception take control of their lives once again, they may relapse and move away from the sober life they worked so hard to achieve in the first place.
  • Dishonesty often triggers guilty and shameful feelings in a person later on. Too much of this guilt can make it difficult to heal and find happiness, halting the treatment progression.

The Importance of Honesty in Recovery

Addiction is a dangerous, long-term condition that requires a high commitment to recovery. Practicing complete honesty while attempting to break out of it can help people prevent slipping back into this cycle. How soon you recover from an underlying addiction depends on how you embrace and tackle the situation. For this reason, many rehabs encourage clients to embrace honesty before committing themselves to any treatment plan. Experts closely work with clients to help them admit that they are powerless over their substances and support them in understanding how they affect their lives. Embracing this openness helps people live freely with no denial, which, in turn, increases their chances of enjoying sobriety. Other benefits of practicing honesty in drug addiction recovery include the following:  

Restoration of Trust

Many addicts keep breaking promises and telling lies, making their family members and loved ones distant. Even when such people complete an addiction treatment program, they struggle to regain this trust, making their life difficult. On the other hand, practicing honesty can help them rekindle their relationships and use them to create a supportive healing environment for themselves.

Relapse Prevention

Dishonesty is one of the biggest reasons why addicts relapse. It is tough to recover if you keep hiding from reality and remain in denial. If your body constantly forces you to restart taking drugs, do not pretend you have everything under control. These cravings can sometimes become so extreme that you may go into a relapse. Hence, make sure to express these feelings honestly and struggles with a therapist while there is still time. If you do not open up about them, negative emotions will accumulate, slowly increasing the risk of addiction.

Some people are habitual in holding onto secrets which might be one of the reasons why they fall prey to addiction. Failing to address such issues during treatment also makes a relapse more likely. Many find it scary and difficult to share these issues with a therapist, but doing so can liberate them in the long run.

Relationship Building

Addiction is rightfully known as a family illness as it affects the primary victim and causes emotional hurt to their loved ones, straining their relationships. Practicing honesty during recovery can help restore a person’s bond with their family members, colleagues, friends, and even their therapist. These relationships, in turn, play a crucial role in forming a robust support system necessary for long-term recovery. Remember that rebuilding these relationships can be tricky for someone who fails to be open around others. Practicing honesty, accepting mistakes, and offering sincere apologies to your loved ones can boost these relationships and make a recovery easier.

Easier and Faster Progression

There is no denying that recovery can become next to impossible for dishonest people with others and themselves. The lies they tell themselves, and others can alter their actions and thoughts, forcing them to live in complete denial with many challenges ahead. Such people may find it easier to hide from a challenge instead of facing it directly; however, this can make recovery difficult in the long run.

Openness and honesty are the only solutions to free oneself from a progressive issue, such as addiction. Addiction requires constant work, even after someone has completed a treatment program. They still need to evaluate their progress honestly and monitor how well they are doing to avoid relapses. Failure to do so can cause unwarranted disruptions in the progression and may send some people back a few steps.

Improvement of Well-being

When people start being honest while practicing addiction recovery, they are much less likely to go through mental health issues. On the other hand, dishonesty makes them deal with stress and anxiety related to the lies they make up.

Maintaining Honesty in Recovery: Tips and Tricks to Remember

Coming to terms with the recovery-related challenges and accepting these difficulties is the best way to overcome a substance use disorder. Many people may find it hard to face the truth about their current situation; however, being completely honest with oneself can be the first step to improving their life.

Many people currently working through recovery, especially in the early stages, are unsure how to practice honesty on all fronts. Such people can learn more about them during their ongoing recovery programs at substance use disorder treatment centers, where a team of experts helps them acquire this skill and practice it in the long term. However, those who have finished treatment can consider following the tips mentioned below:

  • The best advice to break away from dishonesty and practice truthfulness is to admit whenever you have been dishonest as soon as possible. People undergoing a 12-step treatment program follow this advice as a part of step 10. Although it may be hard to admit to a dishonest act, thought, or behavior, doing so can positively affect the future.
  • Remember that acquiring honesty is like building body muscles; the more a person practices it, the more honest they become.
  • Start keeping a journal with yourself and use it to keep track of your day-to-day behaviors. Journaling has been helping many people reflect on their day and find out any examples of dishonesty. It is also an excellent way to stop getting caught up in self-delusion, as journaling provides greater clarity.
  • Remember to clearly understand honesty, its definition, and its benefits, along with learning the risks of dishonesty in drug recovery. If someone does not truly value frankness, they will not put much effort into practicing it.
  • Many try to play down the importance of specific lies or justify them as white lies. While there are certain situations where lying seems like the lesser of the two evils; however, it is never a good idea for someone in addiction recovery to practice this type of dishonesty. Ideally, every person should aim to practice full honesty even if it is impossible to achieve.


Can dishonesty in recovery lead to relapse?

As per experts, addiction is a long-term illness triggered by changes in the brain. This means that it is possible for people to relapse and get back to drug use despite attending a recovery program to prevent it. For most people, this relapse happens because they get stuck in the recovery process. Whenever an issue arises, they try denying it instead of accepting it honestly and doing something to prevent it. This dishonestly makes it difficult for them to continue recovering from drug use and forces them to return to addiction. For others, dishonesty in recovery can lead to a never-ending cycle of shame, guilt, and lying.

Can practicing honesty in drug addiction recovery lead to supportive and more robust relationships?

Building and maintaining healthy, positive, and supportive relationships is vital to recovery. Remember that recovering from addiction is not easy, and many people fall back into the substance abuse pit. Practicing dishonesty during the recovery process can make the likelihood of this relapse much more likely, ultimately damaging the relationships. On the other hand, honesty solidifies these relationships and allows clients to rely on their loved ones for support and healing.

How can honesty in addiction recovery help you grow?

Many addiction recovery programs focus on personal growth as one of the critical outcomes. The process also helps clients identify the underlying causes of their addiction, accept them with complete honesty, and try to overcome them. To make the best out of these programs, experts advise clients to enter into treatment with an open mind and be ready to grow, flourish, and change as a person. This personal growth requires honesty from the patient’s end, and without it, they cannot understand what changes they need to make for continued progress. Dishonesty, on the other hand, can make them deny facing these challenges or make clients falsely believe that they cannot do anything to overcome their active addictions.

Get in Touch for Help