“Addiction thrives in the fertile soil of dishonesty. Honesty holds the ‘checkmate’ position on addiction. As soon as one is honest, the power of the negative cycle can stop.”
– Angela Carrillo, Founder & CEO, Brass Tacks Recovery
We sat down with Angela Carrillo, our Founder & CEO, for her insight on one of the fundamental principles of recovery, honesty.
Angela, why do you think honesty is so critical to long-term recovery?
Honesty is the shot from the gun that begins the recovery race. In order to change, one has to be able to understand what self-honesty is – not just to come from a place of honesty, but also to be able to receive feedback. If an individual does not have the ability to be honest about their fears or challenges, then they cannot be open to receiving the information, tools, and suggestions necessary to expand, evolve and maintain sobriety. Addiction loves emotional stagnation. A person must change to recover, and that change will depend on many factors. Simply put, honesty is critical.
My child is struggling with addiction. What did I do wrong? What can I do to help them be honest?
Each family situation and dynamic is unique, yet the unhealthy game that alcoholism and addiction plays is not. Our experience has shown that one of the biggest fears a parent faces when their child is struggling with addiction is, “what did I do wrong?” Addiction does not require bad parenting, yet it demands continued enabling. Recovery is not about what parents have done in the past, it is about what they are willing to do in the present.
As a parent, one of the biggest contributions you can make is to be that which you would like to see in your child. In other words, model honesty for him or her in all areas. Also, be honest with yourself about the fact that you have no control over your child’s addiction. Allow them the space to step into their own integrity. To create that space, be honest enough with yourself to ask for help. Alcoholism and Addiction affect the whole family. We strongly recommend parents be open minded and attend Al-Anon meetings, follow professional suggestions, and obtain their own therapeutic support. This is challenging for parents as they often feel that their child has “the problem.” We urge every family to accept that, more often than not, the necessary shift that can lead to a child’s recovery begins when the family first seeks their own support.
How can you tell if someone with active addiction is lying?
If someone struggling with addiction doesn’t physically represent the kind of self-destructive hold the addiction has on them, often you cannot tell if he or she is lying. Again, from our experience, consistent alcohol and drug use requires consistent dishonesty.
Do you think someone coping with alcoholism or addiction can lie without realizing it?
Absolutely. Someone cannot hide behind a mask without adapting to that mask. Addiction is a mask. Lying is a survival skill of addiction – it’s part of the manipulation that addiction requires to sustain itself. When a person is in the foxhole of addiction or alcoholism, they lose the ability to identify the truth, and denial becomes a survival skill. I like the way Alcoholics Anonymous addresses this mindset when they state, “…they (alcoholic) cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false.”
If someone in recovery continues to be dishonest, does that mean they will relapse?
Dishonesty is a separation from oneself and one’s higher power, whatever that power is. If someone in recovery continues to be dishonest with themselves and others, they’re likely to relapse. This often happens not because they told a few lies, but because the gap that separates them from their true self and the healthy relationships around them will get too large. The feeling of separation will override the feeling of connectedness. It is in that disconnect that the drug or the drink will look like a good idea again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, please call Brass Tacks Recovery at (888) 277-8225. We care.
B.A., CIP, NLP, CPC, CEO of Brass Tacks Recovery
“I believe one of the most painful experiences a family member can have is watching a loved one struggle with alcoholism or addiction. The fear, worry, and concern the family faces during this time can be debilitating.
I bring to Brass Tacks Recovery a rare skill set, which combines personal experience and comprehension of both internal and external professional synergy. As a Certified Professional Coach with a background in the eating disorder and substance use fields, I bring trauma informed education and empathy to clients and families. I am a member of the board of directors of Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT), and have held board positions within various chapters of the Los Angeles International Association of Eating Disorders (iaedpLA). In 2016 I graduated from Antioch University with a BA in psychology.”