Substance use and mental health issues often combine into a rapidly intensifying and destructive disorder. The illness is mean-spirited, intense, and appears intent on first capturing its victims and then killing its captives. Although the client is capable of reasoning, the co-occurring disorder stubbornly refuses to be reasoned with. It is corrupt, selfish, and bitterly entrenched in pursuing its own agenda. And it lies to you! Recovery, therefore, cannot be passively pursued. It must be seized with a rock-solid commitment to the truth.
Successful recovery is built on integrity and honesty. This critical trait becomes both the starting point and the foundation of a successful recovery journey. Understanding the problem, admitting its depth, and acknowledging the consequences that have followed, pushes the start button on your entire recovery process. Much of addiction is built on dishonesty and those who struggle with addiction can be slow to come to the truth. Denial says, “I don’t have a problem.” Minimization insists things aren’t so bad. Rationalization declares, “it’s not my fault.” Denial, minimization, and rationalization lock your mind into a pattern of defeat and keep you bound and stuck. Honesty breaks that locked pattern and moves you into recovery. Hiding in the shadows, living in denial, and keeping things secret feed the substance use disorder. Dishonesty keeps you in the dark and honesty flips on the light.
Dark Thoughts and White Lies
Many clients tell me that their recent relapse started days or weeks before drinking or using. It didn’t start in a bar; it started in the mind. The first thoughts trickle in like a dripping faucet, but quickly flood the mind with euphoric memories from the past, strong desires in the present, and seductive temptations of the future. Substance use and intoxication had pleasant aspects and imagining pleasant events is also pleasant. It’s here that self-deception and rationalization kick into overdrive. “I’ve got this, the consequences don’t matter, one drink won’t hurt, no one will ever know.”
Facing the Truth
If the relapse starts in the mind, it can also be defeated in the mind. As you progress in your recovery, you’ll be able to spot the rationalizations that caused you to let up your effort and let down your guard. Continue to be honest about temptations, cues, and triggers. Let others know when you exaggerate your progress and minimize your struggles. Find positive distractions, rehearse your progress, and stay connected to those who support your recovery.
Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!