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Honesty and self-deception in drug or alcohol addiction

“The first casualty of war is the truth.”  – Hiram W. Johnson

A metaphor for addiction

I have found that if we can use an illustration outside the field of addiction you will better understand what addiction is. Let’s look at the dying of materials. I will quote from an article on the dying process,

“Reactive dyes are best for cottons or other plant materials because they are very color fast and wash fast. The dye attaches itself to the fabric via a chemical reaction where the dye actually becomes part of the fabric.”

This process is a very clear picture of what happens in true addiction. The entire “fabric” of the person—his belief system, thoughts, actions, life style—becomes engulfed in the ocean of addiction and it seems that the person’s whole being is “dyed” into his core being. How can a person get free from the tentacles of addiction? The addict must come to the realization that honesty is his way out. It leads to the doorway of freedom from chaos and despair found deep inside the addict’s life.

Thoughts on honesty and addiction

One of the first problems people who are addicted must address is that they must begin to be honest with themselves and with others. And one of the main foundations of sobriety is honesty.

I was attending a conference on addiction and was interested in the speaker’s topic on honesty. I wondered if the speaker would be finished in five or ten minutes as I couldn’t imagine what this topic had to do with addiction. I was to find out that honesty has everything to do with it!

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The speaker described his life as a hopeless alcoholic. He drank everything in sight until it was all gone and then began the pursuit of more. He spoke of blackouts, fights, jail, broken bones and broken relationships. Finally, in desperation, he went to a meeting where someone was talking about getting honest with themselves.

The speaker spoke elegantly about how he decided to put the bottle down and that for the first time, sobriety seemed a possibility. He went onto say that honesty was a foundational truth in his life, and would never let it go.

Denial in the life of an addict

I was sitting there amazed and yet knew he had hit on something that would become a very important part of my own life. As I progressed in my understanding of addiction, I found out that self-deception is rampant in the addict. The addict is stuck in a maze of lies stacked one on top of the other. A house of cards all held together with lies—lies to his family, friends, co-workers, banks, loans, stolen property and the list never ends. (When I write the pronoun “his” or “him” it is inclusive of the feminine as well as the male. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer.) It seems that self-deception is one of the prominent aspect of addiction. That’s why honesty is the only real answer to it.

We have all heard the denial is a basic part of addiction and counselors and family members deal with it all the time. But a closer look brings out the fact that the person themselves really believes the deception. It’s like trying to get a blind person to “see” the truth. No amount of pleading and codependent game playing can bring the addict to come to a realization that they are destroying their lives. They finally have to come to the end of SELF and ask for a way out before honesty becomes a workable alternative.

The importance of honesty in a sober life

Honesty is a bridge from the lies, denial, and self-destruction of the addict’s life style. I have found that the word LIFE STYLE is a very descriptive of an addict’s world. Life style encompasses their belief system, family, friends, work and spirituality. Their life style must change before they can get free from drugs/alcohol.

Honesty is a master key to long term sobriety. Honesty opens the door to new possibilities, relationships, jobs and a future. Should you choose to get honest with yourself, you will begin a new chapter in your life. The decision to be honest is a major shift in your mindset for a better life, a fuller life, a real life without the bondage of addiction.

Photo credit: swanksalot

Leave a Reply

One Response to “Honesty and self-deception in drug or alcohol addiction
TerryLynn Stubblefield
8:54 am April 14th, 2011

Excellent read!!! The Truth truly can set us free….not only “the Truth” of God’s Word, but our personal “truth” about ourself.

About Jon Penoi, MPH, LADC

Jon Penoi is the author of Freedom From Addiction and Other Life Controlling Problems and has been a Drug and Alcohol Counselor for 14 years. He earned both his B.A. in Psychology, and Master of Public Health, from Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center. Jon also brings extensive experience in sober living management and served as Director of a halfway house treatment center in Lawton, OK for 4 years.

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