Honesty and the Truth About Addiction & Mental Illness

The foundation of all recovery is the ability and willingness to be honest with oneself…

     …and yet today the common attitude and misguided belief is that addiction has nothing to do with character and that recovery is a simple pharmaceutical procedure.

     Honesty is the very essence of the Step process – to peel back layer upon layer of BS, pride and delusion in an effort to reach the promised land of honesty and purity, and then continue to dig and dig to embrace even deeper, purer levels of honesty. So regardless of whether some drug can manipulate a person’s bio-chemistry to mitigate the side effects of depression et al, there is no fundamental personality change without the ability to be honest with oneself. Until we can see ourselves clearly, recovery is out of reach.

     Let’s take mental illness…
     If I project my own behavior onto others yet am unable to see that I do so, if I take a jab at someone but see them as having taken a jab at me, if I am mean to someone yet see them as being mean to me, if I find someone to be annoying, disappointing, inadequate, immature or irresponsible but cannot see these things in myself, if I am miserable and depressed and I believe that it is all caused by someone I don’t like or someone whom I have chosen to demonize, and if I am passive-aggressive with others or manipulate others but I don’t see, believe or recognize what I am doing, then what good is a some science project?

     Designer drugs cannot fundamentally alter one’s character or personality disorder. Pills and injections cannot make an insane man sane again, nor can they miraculously turn a damaged person into a good person.

     More importantly, drugs do not magically give a person who is unable to be honest with themselves this earned ability. If we are so far gone that we cannot see or recognize anything in ourselves, if we are so far gone that we cannot remember anything we do, if we twist and contort what we do to minimize it, if we see what we do as perfectly appropriate but then see the same thing in you as cruel and inappropriate, if we cannot listen to anything which might trigger us, and if we become immediately defensive to anything we don’t like or find uncomfortable with no self-reflection, then there is nothing any drug can do to effect real change. The condition of being incapable of self-honesty is profound and requires rigorous digging and tremendous work before real change can even be seen off in the distance.

     Thus, without the ability to be honest, the individual is wholly lost. Without the ability to assess and recognize the character skews and negative emotional and behavioral patterns, habits and proclivities within, the individual is paralyzed and there is no movement forward into the light of mental health and spiritual recovery.

     Designer psychotropics and “anti-craving” drugs do not work is because honesty is not simply a switch that can be turned on. As well, there is such a thing as superficial honesty. Self-honesty and awareness is a lengthy and layered process. We engage in self-analysis to reach a thorough understanding of the effect of what we do and say has on others. The 4th Step is designed to be enormous and lengthy for a reason. As we search the truth of what we did to cause resentment after resentment, we peel back ever more layers, reaching deeper levels of honesty. As we search for our own self-seeking, selfishness, dishonesty and fear in a lifetime of resentments, fears and sexual misconduct, we are forced to become honest.

     Therefore, should an individual lack the capacity for honesty, there is no hope. You can “med up” all you like, but you will always be the same sick person.

     Clinicians who work with people that don’t have the honesty chip are spinning their wheels, as those who cannot get honest cannot get better. There is a reason why narcissists, borderlines and psychopaths do not change. They all lack the capacity for honesty, let alone the willingness to become honest.

     So this is the truth about addiction and mental illness. All recovery is based on the premise of the capacity for self-honesty. There is no sense in wasting money on expensive, overpaid therapists, lavish hot tub treatment programs and designer psychotropics for someone who cannot be honest. However, should this capacity exist, there is all the hope in the world.

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