HOW: Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

How to talk to someone about their addiction

HOW: Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

“We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program.  Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.  But these are indispensable.” (Appendix II, “Spiritual Experience”, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 567-568)

This quote from the big book lays out what we need to start recovery and stay in recovery. The acronym HOW stands for Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. Success in recovery has been stated as being an “inside job”.  HOW is instrumental in pulling recovery from the inside out.

H – Honesty

As addicts, it is hard for us to stay honest because most likely the lifestyle we lived in our addiction was not conducive to dishonesty. Denial stands in our way of getting sober. We tell ourselves that we are not that bad, we really do not abuse substances that much, or we are not addicts. The truth is that we lie to ourselves and to others to protect our addiction because we cannot fathom living without it.

By using the tools that have been used since the late 1930’s in recovery, we have a way to become honest. Rigorous honesty is recommended in recovery because without it we can start the practice of finding it easier and easier to lie about drinking and using to ourselves to others. Step 1 is about honesty. If we can admit that we are “powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable”, then we are starting off on the right foot of honesty in recovery. This opens the door to become more honest in other areas of our lives.

O – Open-mindedness

If you have begun a life of recovery then you have started the process of having an open mind. Getting sober is not the natural way for addicts to live. We are usually caught in the insanity of figuring out where we will get our next high. In recovery, open-mindedness starts with getting sober and then extends into other places in our recovery. Taking suggestions is more advantageous for us when it comes to being open minded.

One of the ways that can help us advance in our recovery is through spiritual means. Spirituality can be difficult to accept with many recovering addicts. Having an open mind to these kinds of subjects can help build a foundation upon which to grow in recovery.

W – Willingness

Willingness means giving your consent to begin. It only takes a little bit of initiative to start on the path of recovery. If you have a small amount of willingness, it will make the process easier. Those that come into recovery kicking and screaming or with reservations have a harder time adapting to a recovery lifestyle. Willingness makes us susceptible to going the extra mile in our recovery than if we were coerced into it.


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