By Ken Wells, MDiv, MA, LPC, CSAT, LSAC


Secrets and dishonesty plague recovery dreams. The two behaviors create a breeding ground for addiction to flourish and abound. Honesty is antidote to hiding and deceit. That said, for most people, it is very difficult to master. Some people struggle with telling bald-face lies. They manipulate the truth to create confusion so that the populace might embrace the improbable and ignore reality. The goal in this endeavor is to trigger doubt and to question the truth. It has been threatening and a sad state of affairs when leadership is tainted with deceit. Many people say one thing and do another. Honesty is more than what you say. It is found in your action and follow through.


Sobriety begins and builds with honesty

Twelve-step communities foster an environment for truth telling. It encourages each addict to say it straight regardless of attitude or behavior. Getting honest with self and others requires vulnerability. It emphasizes that an addict needs to be “emotionally naked” and practice sitting in that space with others who are also recovering from denial and making excuses for dishonest behavior. Honesty is confrontational and holds each person’s feet to the fire to face oneself and move forward with actions that address need for change.


However, practicing honesty is a difficult challenge. Facing insecurity at a deep emotional level is one of the great challenges in recovery. Most people live incongruently. They discover honesty but resist acting with integrity because of fear, anxiety or a host of other reasons. Everyone is hypocritical about something. You say one thing with conviction but you live differently than what you avowed as important. People also struggle with being inconsistent whether it is about food to avoid/eat or a myriad of other things that you declare are important. It is human nature to be inconsistent, hypocritical and incongruent.


When addicts get stuck in this dynamic they relapse. Saying one thing, feeling something different, and then acting differently than what you say fuels a double life. Without accountability and consultation, addicts lose themselves in destructive living.


Many people try to control their image and what other people think of them. They will find out what others approve of and then mimic those behaviors in order to get a smile of approval. This leads to a form of dishonesty that is habitual. Some people don’t even know that they do this behavior or even who they are or what it is they want. They automatically register what fits in with approval from a desired group of people. They never know who they really are because of this blinding sense of emotional dishonesty.


Honesty is the answer to a double life. When an addict slows down a chaotic duplicitous lifestyle, then they stop playing head games with themselves. “Macho” no longer matters. Trying to be a hero to others is no longer important. They are able to better see their victim posturing and excuse making.


Addicts in recovery learn to shift from focusing on external controls of impression management and concentrate on internal controls of being honest, listening to their inner voice and establishing true authentic relationships. They become more sensitive and connect to their own feelings and inner needs. They recognize their own limitations and provide rest for their mind and body. They learn to prioritize and cultivate a piercing awareness of personal values. They live by those values that are much deeper than mere sobriety.


Honesty helps an addict engage a spiritual awakening toward becoming real. With accountability and consultation, they learn to tune into their inner voice that guides and protects. As a result, incongruence readily gives way to congruence. Hypocrisy is transformed to genuine authenticity. Inconsistency is curbed with follow-through and completion. Honesty promotes inner awareness that helps you create a real connection with your Higher Power, yourself, and the people you engage in your life.


Honesty is more than what you say. It’s the action you take. It’s fleshing out where the rubber meets the road that creates honest sincere recovery transformation.


Read more insights about the importance of embracing every day experiences in recovery from Ken’s book “Dare to Be Average- Finding Brilliance in the Commonplace” – published by Daily House Publishing and currently on sale through

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