The Importance of Integrity in Addiction Recovery

Sober woman
Photo by SimonSkafar/

For me, one of the best things about getting sober was the opportunity to turn my life around and become the type of person I would want to be around. Unfortunately, when I was drinking, I was not very dependable. I often lied to cover up my mistakes, and I had an overall pretty negative mindset. If I am honest with myself, I was not someone I would want to be around. Because of that, I drank even more, to try and escape the negative feelings I had about myself which turned into a pretty vicious cycle of self-destruction. Addiction is a loop of madness that will repeat itself until you are finally able to get out.

What I am saying may sound judgmental to someone who doesn’t understand what happens when they become addicted to substances. But, unfortunately, the very nature of addiction will frequently cause people to lose their integrity. This mindset often occurs because many drugs are illegal and cause people to hide their drug use and lie about things. For example, people who have a drinking problem are often judged, and they will begin to lie about how much they are drinking to avoid judgment from others.

Once I was able to get sober and take a look at my life and the way I was living, a lightbulb went off. I saw that a critical piece missing from my life during my drinking days was my integrity. The longer I went without it, the worse I felt about myself. Once I was able to take responsibility for my past mistakes, learn from them, and make amends, I began to feel much better about who I was. After going through such a complex process, I decided I never wanted to have to do that again, and I made a point always to do my best to maintain my integrity.

When it comes to a life of addiction recovery, there are several reasons why personal integrity must remain a top priority for someone who wants to stay sober.

1. The little things turn into big things.

One lie here and there may not seem like a big deal in the beginning. For example: say you were late, and instead of owning up to the fact that you didn’t leave on time, you lie to your boss and tell them that there was terrible traffic. Sure this may not seem so bad at the time, but one lie usually turns into another. I once heard someone say that the way we do the little things is often a reflection of how we do the big things in life. If you wouldn’t lie about something big, then you shouldn’t lie about something small. If you feel the need to lie about what you are doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

2. Rebuilding trust takes a long time.

Daughter rebuilding trust with her mother
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It takes a lot of work to rebuild the trust that was broken during an addiction. Depending upon the level of hurt that occurred, this can even take years of showing the other person that you have changed. Rebuilding trust is hard work and shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, destroying trust can happen very quickly, especially if it has been done before. During my recovery process, I realized that I never wanted to lose the trust of my family again because it meant so much to me to have it back.

3. Addiction often robs us of our integrity.

Plain and simple addiction robs us of our integrity. This statement isn’t to say that people with an addiction should be looked down upon, rather than the trap of addiction causes people to do things they usually wouldn’t. Having to lie, beg, or steal to get that next fix doesn’t feel very good to anyone. Over time these feelings will erode a person’s confidence until there is nothing left.

4. Slippery slopes are dangerous.

It is easy to fall back into our old ways when we do things we know we shouldn’t. You may be okay hanging out at a bar one time, but if you continue this habit and continually spend time with people who are drinking around you, then your chances of drinking increase. One thing can quickly lead to another, so it is best not to take the first step towards relapse in the first place.

5. When we feel better about ourselves, it is easier to stay sober.

Once I could work through all of the awful things from my addiction, I began to feel better about myself. The longer I stayed sober, the better I felt about myself and the more I wanted to stay sober. It is easier to live a life of sobriety when you feel good about yourself since you won’t want to ruin that feeling by using drugs or alcohol.

6. The company we keep influences the lives we lead.

Sport friends women
Photo by Yobro10/

The people we spend time with will influence the way we think and behave. If you spend time with someone who is constantly lying, cheating, and stealing, you will eventually begin to do these things as well. Your transgressions may bother you at first, but the longer you are around others doing these things, the more you will become desensitized to the wrong. It is best to spend time with people that act in ways that align with your morals.

7. Addiction recovery is a complete lifestyle.

A life of recovery is more about not just drinking or using drugs. A life of recovery is about making daily choices that lead to living a better life. Unfortunately, you can’t stop drinking and then keep doing everything you did while drinking and think you can stay sober. If you want to stay sober, you will need to change your daily habits and routines.

8. It’s nice to be dependable.

It feels so good to know that your family and friends know they can depend on you. Letting down someone you love is a terrible feeling and is something I hope I never have to experience again. Knowing that my family knows I will be there for them and do what I say I will do is a beautiful feeling.

9. Success is more rewarding when earned fairly.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather live a life that people call “mediocre” or “mundane” while maintaining my honesty and integrity than live a lavish lifestyle that I had obtained unfairly. Winning by cheating doesn’t feel good; some people might shrug off those feelings, but not me. There is nothing more fulfilling than finding success through honesty and hard work.

Sober blond woman with a high integrity

10. Having integrity is a reward in and of itself.

Having integrity is a beautiful thing. Living an honest life and treating people well is one of my most significant accomplishments. After living a life full of lies and deceit, living a life of integrity feels like a breath of fresh air. There is something enriching about knowing you are always trying to do the right thing. It may not be the easiest route to take, but it will by far be the most rewarding.

Reviewed by Matt Hawk, BS, CADC-II, ICADC



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.