Be honest. Get real. Tell the truth.
These are important idioms to live by but for those of us who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, the struggle to live life out in the open is real. Whether you think you might have a problem with alcohol or you know that your drinking is out of control, being honest with yourself and others about what’s going on in your life can be hard but it’s also totally necessary if you want to make any changes.
Denial—being unwilling or unable to examine your behavior objectively—plays a huge role in maintaining addiction.
Today, we’ll look at the way dishonesty works in alcoholism and what being honest with yourself and others has to do with recovery.
Dishonesty is a Sign of Problem Drinking
Failing to be completely honest about your drinking—to yourself and others—is a major warning sign that your drinking is out of control.
Do you ever:
- Promise yourself that you’ll “only have one more” and then break that promise?
- Tell other people “I’m not drunk” when you’re actually quite buzzed?
- Sneak drinks or shots in when other people aren’t watching?
- Conceal your drinking with mints, gum, or other strategies?
- Hide bottles of alcohol around your house, car, or office?
- Tell yourself that your relationship with alcohol is OK even when you know it’s not?
- Surround yourself with people who tell you that your relationship with alcohol is OK even when you know it’s not?
- Lie about being sick when you’re actually hungover?
- Make up stories about where you were last night? Or where the money went? Or who you were with?
While some of these behaviors could be considered “lies of omission,” they all share a common element of deception. As problem drinkers, we engage in deceptive behavior in some form or another to cover over our disease symptoms so that we don’t have to face any pressure from ourselves or others about our problem. If no one sees it and no one talks about it then it doesn’t exist—and therefore everything is OK and can continue as usual. Addiction thrives in this environment.
Getting Honest with Yourself
The first step to changing your relationship with alcohol is getting honest with yourself. This has to happen before anything else can change.
The good news is that you can actually do this step while continuing to drink. The bad news is that this first step is the hardest step for most people to take. Getting honest with yourself after putting so much energy into avoiding the truth about your drinking is incredibly difficult.
Getting honest with yourself is a process. For some people, it means keeping track of how many drinks they have in a day or journaling about their daily experiences with alcohol. For others, it means talking with a counselor, friend, or religious official openly and honestly about their drinking. A lot of people have an “ah ha” moment where they see the problem clearly for the first time. Others experience a “rock bottom” experience where they surprise themselves with negative consequences that are more severe than usual. There is no right way to get honest with yourself.
However you go about getting honest with yourself, admitting that you have a problem will be part of the experience. Yes, this is the famous first step of the 12 step program, but the reality is that it is the first step towards sobriety regardless of what program you choose to use. You have to admit to yourself that you have a problem in order to begin working on a solution.
Getting Honest with Other People
After you’ve gotten honest with yourself, it’s time to get honest with other people.
This is another really difficult part of recovery.
If you’re like most problem drinkers, you have been dishonest with other people about your drinking problem. While you don’t have to tell everyone about your problem, you do have to tell some people in order to build a support network. Without honesty, you can’t get close to other people. In order to stay sober, you’re going to need support, and that means letting other people get to know the real you.
Being real with other people, especially while sober, can feel really unnatural and uncomfortable if you’re used to relying on alcohol to relate to others. While alcohol can make you feel like you’re able to “open up” and really connect with other people, the truth is that the connections you made while you were drinking aren’t as substantial as those that you’ll make while you’re sober. It’s normal to feel that you can’t “be yourself” without alcohol when you first quit drinking. It makes sense that you may feel uncomfortable without a drink in your hand, especially if you’ve relied on drinking to help navigate social situations in the past. With practice, these feelings will fade.
We Can Help You Stay Honest During Recovery
Getting real with yourself and others is such an integral part of recovery—but you can’t do it alone. Most people need help to unlearn the patterns of dishonesty that feed addiction. At Transitions Recovery Program, we can help you get honest and stay honest during the whole process. Give us a call today at 800-626-1980 to learn more about how our alcohol treatment program can help you start living the life you deserve.