Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are each crucial in long-term addiction recovery.

Everyone has a different story when it comes to addiction. Michael Griggs had his first drink of alcohol at the age of 13, and the pleasurable effects he felt were enough to begin his road to addiction. Though his alcohol use ramped up slowly at first, it came to a point where Griggs felt like he was free-falling for six years. He lost a job, failed out of school and received his first DUI. Though Griggs went to treatment, he continued to struggle afterward. He lost another job and received a second DUI. Addiction recovery seemed impossible.

In a moment of clarity, he realized there had to be more to life than alcohol use. Griggs returned to treatment for a second time but instead chose to stay at The Recovery Village. The difference this time was that he came to recovery with a dedication to confront his addiction. Though it was hard to leave home, Griggs knew it would lead to the next chapter of his life. During rehab, he learned tools and strategies that would help him avoid and overcome alcohol use in the future.

Though each person has a different story about addiction, the tools that help people recover are often universal. Throughout his recovery journey, he found that three things were vital to success: honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. He also learned that the hard path is usually the right one to take.

Honesty in Addiction Recovery

Many people who live with addiction find it hard to be honest, both with themselves and with others in their life. Recovery is a hard step to take, but being dishonest can make it even more difficult. By practicing honesty about addiction, people can admit to themselves that they need help. More importantly, they can begin the recovery process in the right mindset and with the assistance of medical professionals.

There are a few reasons why honesty is so important in recovery:

  • Being dishonest can trigger a relapse. If you’re lying about your addiction or how you’re feeling during recovery, you may fall into old behaviors or fail to see relapse triggers. Triggers can be anything that reminds you of a substance or makes you want to use it again. If you are experiencing cravings, feel like you cannot resist temptation or are actively using substances again, it’s important to let others know. Loved ones and doctors can help you deal with these cravings or find further assistance.
  • Being dishonest may make you feel like someone you’re not. If you’re telling everyone about how well recovery is going when it’s actually not, you’re hurting your long-term chances of staying substance-free. It’s important to be open about how you’re feeling, regardless of whether you’re feeling a simple craving or you’ve already relapsed.
  • Relationships are built on trust. Relationships in recovery are important, and the connections you have with loved ones as well as health care professionals revolve around honesty. They cannot help you if you are not telling the truth about your substance use and addiction. This is especially true when speaking to a therapist. They are a neutral party who will not judge you for what you say, and they can help you develop a mindset for overcoming addiction.

Open-Mindedness in Addiction Recovery

It’s important to have an open mind when beginning addiction recovery, especially during early recovery. Addiction rehab didn’t work for Michael the first time, but imagine if he hadn’t gone back to treatment a second time. He would have likely continued his free fall into addiction, which may have led to further alcohol-related charges and even damage to his health. Open-mindedness means being able to try new things or do them again. If you think you may have an addiction, you should look for warning signs as soon as possible.

Michaels says he had a moment of clarity, but not everyone will experience this. If people are not honest about their situation, they may avoid treatment or severely underestimate the extent of their use. Once someone decides to seek treatment, they must have an open mind about the process. Recovery is not easy, but it can help people overcome addiction and lead to healthier, substance-free lives.

Willingness in Addiction Recovery

While having an open mind is important, being willing to change is even more vital to recovery. Ending substance use and dealing with addiction is a difficult process for many. However, it is possible. All it takes is a willingness to change and the support system to do so.

Being honest with family, friends and medical professionals creates a basis of support. Having an open mind means accepting that recovery is possible. Willingness is the mindset that can help people overcome addiction and start the path to recovery.

The Hard Path Is Usually the Right Path

Michael’s first attempt at recovery was unsuccessful, but it doesn’t mean he gave up forever. There are bound to be missteps in the addiction recovery process. Challenges in recovery come from overcoming old habits, finding new ways to deal with negative emotions and learning coping skills for handling triggers or tough situations. It does get easier, but it takes a commitment to the three cornerstones of recovery: honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.

You Are Not Alone

Many people feel stigmatized for their substance use or are ashamed of it. While this is a barrier to recovery, it is important to know that you are not alone. There are many people who have overcome addiction and understand exactly where you’re coming from. Peer support in addiction recovery is a valuable tool to help you during difficult moments in the process.

The best way to build a foundation for a substance-free future is to seek professional addiction treatment. Each day, The Recovery Village helps people around the nation overcome and manage substance misuse and addiction. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can work well for your situation. 

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By – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more

Sack, David. “No Addiction Without Lies, No Recovery Without Truth.” Addiction Recovery, June 9, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What to Do If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Adults.” January 2016. Accessed July 28, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.