Stopping Addictions Requires Ruthless Honesty

addictions, sober recovery, couples in recovery, relationships & addictions, relationship with an addict, addicts & relationships, addiction recovery, relapse & recovery, relapse prevention

Addictions are all about feeling good fast without any effort; swallow too much booze or pop a pill & float, find porn on the internet instead of messy sex with someone real, gamble, or have sex with strangers because it adds drama to your life. The opposite of all this ease would be the choice to do the hard work of being fiercely honest with yourself & anyone you love…..not easy at all.

Addictions are all about deceiving yourself & everyone else. Alcoholics Anonymous has an expression about active addicts: “If their lips are moving, they’re lying.”

Active addicts thrive on a huge amount of selfishness. Their thoughts & feelings constantly loop back to themselves. Even when they are generous to a fault it’s really all about forgiving them when they are “bad”.

Self-hatred also lies at the very heart of most addictions. “Let me numb myself so I don’t have to think about how terrible I’ve been to anyone else.” Loving an active addict really requires loving them no matter what.

Active addicts are unable to love themselves & require everyone around them to supply constant unconditional love so that they can feel ok. Only kids 17 & under deserve unconditional love, not adults. If you are someone who supplies constant unconditional love it is likely that you are codependent.

Codependency is not really love because it lacks respect.

Active addiction demands too much from other people. Recovery requires a lot of work from the addict.

The key to interrupting addiction is a tricky path because ruthless honesty is the only way out. This level of honesty can also fuel shame which can spiral into self-hatred, giving up & relapse. A.A. helps addicts in recovery stay afloat because everyone there knows about shame. It is sharing shame that makes it more bearable.

In my role as therapist it can be very difficult to watch the addict begin to grow & change, yet not be believed because of a huge history of lies & betrayal. It’s easy for me to have greater faith in the recovery because I witness the new path of truth & the new-found courage it demands.

I’m also very sad when the addict isn’t authentic about stumbling on the path of recovery & then they are discovered once again to have lied. Already the partner is at their wit’s end & now they only want out.

If an addict in recovery can pick up the phone to tell their sponsor, their therapist or their partner then they will succeed. When a recovering addict retreats to their old habits of hoarding secrets they are doomed.

If you attend an A.A., N.A., or S.A. meeting & falsely reassure yourself you are not like anybody else who is there you will fail.

It is heart breaking when a partner has been crystal clear that this is the last chance & the addict in recovery hasn’t crawled their way in to the final chance that truth offers. Then it’s too late because of course the lies are uncovered.

Recovery for any problem is really about truth-telling.


5 thoughts on “Stopping Addictions Requires Ruthless Honesty

  1. misskatri says:

    I really liked this paragraph
    “Active addicts thrive on a huge amount of selfishness. Their thoughts & feelings constantly loop back to themselves. Even when they are generous to a fault it’s really all about forgiving them when they are “bad”.

    because it accurately describes someone I know. I find the meaningless apologies infuriating and yet I know he will never change. Selfishness has its own reward and sadly that payoff is greater (for them) than having integrity.

  2. TodayistheFirstDay says:

    I see the addict and the codependent both are part of the relationship not working.
    Can one stay with a compulsive gambler? I have read that it is one of the most difficult addictions to be put “in remission”. I discovered husband’s gambling after 29 years of marriage. He kept it secret because our accounts have always been separate.
    Divorce? What do you tell your adult kids? We were both at fault?
    So scary to give up 30 years.
    So scary to think of doing the late-in-life years with the silence and secrecy.
    So sad and very confused, married 30 years.

    • rhodasommer says:

      There is a section on Codependency on the Anxiety page of my website that recommends books & workbooks that might be helpful. Meetings would help for spouses of addicts. Yes, you have a part in the problems. As suggested in the article being honest about problems is usually the way to go. I can’t give advice over the internet about your specific situation but gambling is certainly a difficult addiction, as they all are! Good luck to you, rhoda

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