As we move into the new year, Purple would like to share with you what we believe and the Big Book of AA states are the essentials to recovery. The answer to that ageless question “HOW can I find a solution to this problem?” lies in the acronym of H.O.W(Honesty, Open-Mindedness, and Willingness). These three principles lay down a solid foundation for recovery, both for the addict in your life and for you.

The principle of HONESTY is the hub of the wheel when it comes to recovery; everything revolves around it.  Without rigorous honesty, recovery simply cannot take place. In the Big Book it states “only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty and genuine humility”.

Being dishonest serves a purpose in the life of an addict and for the family. If the addict stopped lying, they’d have to quit drinking or using drugs and face a shameful pile of hurt they’ve inflicted on the people they love. That’s quite a load to bear, especially for the addict who is complacent about getting sober or who tries to face their past alone. It’s much easier to hide emotions, keep up the double life and continue using. Just as food fuels the body, lies drive addictive thoughts and behaviors. For some, relief from the need to lie is the most attractive aspect of addiction recovery.

For the family members, dishonesty lies mostly in the form of denial. Denial is a mechanism by which we protect ourselves from some threatening awareness about ourselves, someone else, or a situation. Denial clouds one’s ability to recognize the facts or reality of their lives. Most often, it impairs judgment and increases self-delusion. Without honesty, there is no recovery. It requires a valiant effort, but through rigorous honesty, addicts and family members reap a reward that at one time likely seemed utterly impossible: coming to know and love themselves and others, imperfections and all.

The principle of being OPEN-MINDED means being receptive to new and different opinions and ideas. It is a willingness to at least consider that other people have something of value to say. It also means that the individual has enough humility to admit to themselves that they do not have all the answers. Opening up your mind to new ideas allows you the opportunity to change what you think and how you view the world. Now, this doesn't mean you necessarily will change your beliefs, but you have the option to when you think with an open mind.

Open-mindedness is not just about accepting what other people have to say. It is about questioning what is being said with the understanding that it is possible that this other opinion could be right. By agreeing to an open mind, we admit that we don’t know everything and there are possibilities we may not have considered. Being open-minded allows us to recognize the mistakes we’ve made and also to make new mistakes. We learn that it’s okay to fall and get back up again, experiencing the true benefit from the process of trial and error.

Open-mindedness requires listening, really listening. Being open-minded gives you confidence and strength and helps you to learn and grow. Without an open-mind it’s very hard to build on experiences, and it is through experiences, that you grow.

The principle of WILLINGNESS is a mental attitude that can insure success in recovery. If you are truly willing to escape the impact of addiction, you will do whatever it takes. A willing individual who is serious about recovery, will make it the #1 priority in life. They understand that having a different life requires much effort and these changes don’t occur overnight. A willing individual is prepared to devote however long it takes. You must be a willing participant in your own recovery.
A willing individual will take responsibility for their own recovery and will seek out others to help them. Willingness is participation, action and commitment. Willingness is showing up to recovery and all it entails. Willingness is showing up for ourselves.

With a New Year upon us, these are the questions to ponder as we mover forward in the work of recovery: Are you willing to take this leap of faith? Are you willing to be open-minded; listening and believing that someone else may have an answer you seek? Are you willing to trust the process of recovery? Are you willing to participate, take action and be committed to the process fully understanding that it takes time? 

If you are practicing HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS and WILLINGNESS each and every day, then your life will begin to transform for the better. It really is that simple. This is HOW recovery is possible.