This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.
The pursuit of addiction recovery is, in many ways, the pursuit of personal truth. Our addictions ultimately exist as patterns created to cover up an underlying emotional reality that is painful in some way; they endeavor to create a false reality. Behaviors or substances can only become addictions if they provide the kind of relief that is better than the emotional truth that exists before that behavior or substance is introduced. If this cover-up does not feel necessary, then there is little danger of addiction. So recovery from addiction must be an invitation to truth—to the very nature and experience of personal reality. Although there may also be a time in the beginning when we will have to deal with being obsessed with the substance or behavior that we have decided to let go, we will need to go further than simple abstinence if we are to learn to embrace and heal the parts of ourselves that created the uncomfortable experience of reality, causing us to be vulnerable to our addiction in the first place. Learning to be true to one’s self, to learn to be able to experience one’s unadulterated emotional experience, is a process. It needn’t be perfect and will unfold differently for each person. But a dedication to addiction recovery is also a dedication to personal truth, and to this end, we must be true.