Honesty is fundamental to successful recovery from addiction and is often viewed as the first step in an alcohol detox program. Addiction is not only associated with deviousness and dishonesty with others but also the denial that a problem even exists. By accepting a need for honest and open communication as part of effective detox from alcohol, addicts are closer to ridding themselves of the denial that has kept them addicted. The main problem with denial is that it prevents addicts from addressing their unhealthy behaviors and their negative effect on others while justifying their bad behavior in their own minds.
Denial is the mind’s way of tricking addicts into avoiding seeing what needs to be seen and can be exhibited in the following ways:
Rationalizing: Addiction exists for a specific and identifiable reason and so it doesn’t need dealing with.
Blaming: Someone else is to blame.
Avoidance: Will talk about anything else but their addiction.
Comparing: There’s always someone more addicted or with more problems.
Manipulating: Using emotional blackmail to get loved ones to solve addiction issues.
Fear: Being afraid of addiction provides a reason for avoidance.
Hopelessness: A defeatist attitude of ‘nothing works for me’.
For all of the above reasons, denial has to be effectively countered with complete honesty, particularly when in addiction treatment. The best program or sustainable recovery can only be created for individuals who are prepared to set out all the facts as they know them. Honesty is at the other end of the spectrum to denial and leads to acceptance. Once there is acceptance of a problem, it is followed by acceptance that help is needed and ultimately, acceptance of the truth.
In alcohol detox programs, honesty has healing properties for patients dealing with denial, allowing better bridges of communication with others, particularly those providing addiction treatment and support. For example, a completely frank and honest talk with someone in a caregiving position while in rehab is crucial in identifying the underlying issues behind a patient’s addiction, which the patient may not even be aware of.
Alcohol and drug rehab is a process and honest communication central to its success. Getting difficult or emotional experiences out in the open and shared with others taking the time to listen, provides a platform for letting go of negative issues that fuel addictive behavior.
For many drug and alcohol addicts, they have a long experience of using substances as a coping mechanism for life’s daily stresses. This can contribute to a state of denial as it’s hard to accept the detrimental effects of alcohol or drugs when the user is holding down a high-flying job or getting straight A’s at school. Denial is possibly one of the most enabling aspects of addiction, particularly for people who are self-medicating to cope with daily stress.
It is only when they have the realization that without drugs or alcohol, they are not able to function to the level they have been and they start to accept responsibility. Denial ultimately allows addicts to feel free to continue abusing substances or alcohol and has to be eliminated for successful detox and rehab.
Denial has to be broken through before addicts are likely to seek treatment as until they recognize they have a problem, their avoidance of it will continue to fuel the addiction. Honesty is the only antidote to denial – and step one towards accepting that behavior, actions and attitudes have consequences. Being blind to addiction is one of the most common signs to others that someone has substance or alcohol issues, but remains one of the hardest things for an addict to recognize themselves.