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Why Emotional Honesty is Required for Addiction Treatment

The most important person to be honest with is yourself. In fact, the first step in the 12-step program is to admit that you are powerless over drugs or alcohol and that they have made your life unmanageable. Throughout your recovery, you will also need to be honest with others, including those professionals who are helping you through detox, therapy, and other treatment options. Emotional honesty is required for addiction treatment to ensure that you succeed in your recovery.

Being Emotionally Aware

When you are emotionally honest, you express your true feelings. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may not even realize what your true feelings are in regard to certain areas of your life. Emotional awareness helps you understand what you are feeling so you can identify your emotions and express them honestly, with yourself and with others in your life.

Expressing Your Emotions

Many people are not comfortable expressing their emotions. You may think that your feelings are not acceptable and must be hidden. Or you may be denying your feelings as you work through your recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Unexpressed feelings, though, can be a major source of mental, and even physical, suffering. When you are not honest about your emotions or if you try to suppress them, you may actual experience physical symptoms of distress.

Being given the freedom to express your emotions, openly and honestly, on the other hand, can be a significant relief and will be helpful to you as you work through your addiction treatment. In therapy sessions and in other treatment formats, emotional honesty is required for addiction treatment to be successful.

Privacy and Secrecy        

You may be concerned about your privacy when asked to open up in a therapy session. First, addiction treatment services protect your privacy and confidentiality. Second, there is a significant difference between privacy and secrecy. In addiction, you hid your emotions and were not honest with yourself or with others out of a need for secrecy and deception. Secrecy can lead to much worse outcomes, particularly when you hide facts or feelings at a time when you most need to share honestly.

Self-Deception and Denial

The Cleveland Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) shares some very helpful information about why emotional honesty is required for addiction treatment. When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you usually live a life that involves a lot of dishonesty. Your substance abuse has brought you into conflict with other people and to avoid new conflicts, you probably found that you needed to lie. The most damaging of these lies are the ones you tell yourself in addiction.

When you are addicted, you rely on self-deception and denial so that you can continue using drugs and alcohol. Coming to terms and admitting your addiction is the first step toward recovery. Honesty is what finally leads you into recovery and is what will keep you there.

Why Emotional Honesty is Required

As AA points out, emotional honesty is required in recovery because dishonesty is dangerous:

  • It is a common relapse trigger. It means that you are returning to old ineffective coping strategies for dealing with life.
  • The most common reason why people relapse after a period of sobriety is that they become stuck in recovery. This often happens because they have stopped being honest with themselves and other people. They feel unwilling to face a challenge on the path before them, so they try to hide from it in denial. No further progress can occur until you can clearly acknowledge what the problem is and you are willing to take action to remedy the situation.
  • If friends and family find out about this dishonesty it can destroy any progress that has been made in rebuilding relationships.
  • Programs such as the 12 Steps require that you are rigorously honest. If you begin to behave dishonestly it will mean that you will be unable to benefit from this program.
  • Dishonesty can lead to feelings of guilt afterwards. When you are dealing with too much guilt in recovery, you can find it hard to discover real happiness.
  • Your failure to be honest with yourself kept you trapped in addiction. If you allow self-deception to once again take hold of your life, then you are likely to question the value of sobriety and the need to refrain from alcohol and drugs.
  • Honesty allows for healing, for yourself and for those close to you. If you continue to be dishonest then it means that this healing will not take place.
  • If you are participating in therapy, it is vital that you are truthful during these sessions. If there is no honesty there can be little benefit from such treatment.


At BRC Recovery, our addiction treatment program is individualized specifically for your needs. We offer you holistic healing in a warm, supportive, community-driven environment that will help you rebuild and reclaim your life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery at 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.