Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

We’re Only As Sick As Our Secrets

I used to work with a man who, for years, carried the ultimate secret. Back in the early nineties, he stabbed another man during a drug deal. He was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in the Texas state pen.

For those first few years behind bars, he proclaimed his innocence to everyone he met, even though, deep-down, he knew he committed the crime. It wasn’t until carrying the burden of this secret became too great that he finally decided it was time to come clean.

Soon after, he confessed to the prison chaplain – a moment he says is the “first day of the rest of his life.” He began living a life of rigorous honesty, leaving behind a long history of addiction and deception. Twenty six years later, he was released on parole. He has maintained his sobriety and lives each day full of gratitude and inner peace – mainly because he now has nothing to hide.

Dishonesty and Addiction

“We’re only as sick as our secrets” is an adage known well by those in AA. It basically means that a secret kept in the dark grows and becomes more harmful, but once it is exposed to light or released, its power is lost.

Secrets have the ability to fester negativity and self-loathing, while keeping us sick and trapped in addiction. That’s why the need to get honest is a very important aspect of recovery. It’s all about leaving the deception behind, because deception is something that’s fundamental to keeping an addiction alive.

When you stop lying to yourself (and those you love), you’ll find yourself standing at the gateway to freedom from addiction.

Honesty Really is the Best Policy

Being open and honest with ourselves allows us to forgive and become okay with who we are, and that can facilitate us cleaning up the wreckage of the past. Being open and transparent can also allow us to connect with others, as we realize we’re not alone in our thoughts, actions, or past behaviors. This connection marks the beginning of healing for many, and enables us to finally step out of isolation – something that is exceedingly important during early sobriety, because it allows the newly-sober person to feel accepted and have a sense of belonging.

Remember, the longer you keep something buried, the longer you have to continue to lie to yourself. By getting honest with yourself and others around you, you can step out of denial, accept your flaws, and check your addiction at the door.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.