“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path,” wrote the authors of Alcoholics Anonymous, the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” Such individuals, the authors point out, are “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” The simple program the authors describe is the program outlined by the twelve steps, “which demands rigorous honesty”.
Honesty is the first step of the twelve steps and has become the ubiquitous first step in solving any problem: admitting there is a problem. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable.” The first step asks that we become honest with ourselves about our relationship to alcohol in our lives. We have to become honest that we are powerless, that we cannot manage or control or drinking anymore. In so doing, we become honest with ourselves. Seeing the change which commences to take place as soon as we admit we are powerless over drugs and alcohol, we are inspired to maintain our honesty ongoing. Honesty becomes a way of life- a rigorous way of life- upon which we depend.
Lying is as much an addiction of its own as it is part of living with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. In 2016, Nature Neuroscience study found that dishonesty is to humans like taking a drink is to an alcoholic. It is rare and difficult to have just one. Lying for personal benefit is like an addictive behavior. Alcohol is an analgesic. In the midst of an euphoric state caused by alcohol, we become numb to the negative consequences our drinking is causing us. The study found that personally beneficial lies act the same way. Telling more lies creates an analgesic effect to the consequences of lying, making it easier to tell more lies, more often, on a bigger scale. Much in the same way an alcoholic builds a tolerance and has to consume larger quantities of alcohol to maintain their analgesia, when we lie, we have to keep going as well.
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