H.O.W. Virtues of Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

July 7, 2016 Becky Doyle

Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness (H.O.W.) are the virtues essential to my recovery from alcohol addiction. Without any one, relapse becomes a very real possibility. Anyone who relies on these virtues can stay sober. It's all that separates recovering alcoholics from alcoholics who are still struggling to get sober. Maintaining the H.O.W. virtues allows for recovery from alcohol addiction but using them as tools in sobriety is neither pleasant nor easy, but it is possible.

To recover from alcoholism, a person needs to be dedicated to applying the three basic virtues of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness (H.O.W.). When you do not understand the role these virtues play, it's easy to think recovering alcoholics are special or somehow more capable than those individuals who are still using. This is a common misconception which is a detriment to others being able to recover (Addiction Stigma and Celebrating Mental Health). The more we attach judgments of "good" or "bad" to a person's ability to stay sober, the less likely struggling alcoholics are to find the true resources necessary for recovery.

Honesty as a Virtue in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Honesty comes in many forms, among them are self-awareness and personal relationships. The mentality of an alcoholic will look for ways to hide, lie, and cheat in Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness (H.O.W.) is vital to alcohol addiction recovery. Find out why you need H.O.W. in alcohol addiction recovery. Read this.order to get to the next drink. By being vigilant about honesty, an alcoholic can resist their natural desire to drink. The importance of honesty cannot be overrated.

Honesty in self-awareness is important while maintaining sobriety because of the alcoholic's desire to hide from, or change, feelings. While denying these feelings may initially provide some relief, this actually creates greater problems down the road because eventually the feelings will resurface. An alcoholic who is in touch with their emotions and able to acknowledge them is better suited to deal with intense emotions and not drink.

Without honesty in personal relationships, alcoholics will introduce opportunities for resentment, guilt, and fear to penetrate their relationships. At least for myself, these types emotions always make alcohol seem very tempting.

Open-Mindedness as a Virtue in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

An alcoholic in recovery needs to maintain an open-mind because in order to get what you've never had, you need to try something you've never done. Typically, alcoholics know nothing about staying sober. These newcomers need advice from men and women who have maintained long period of sobriety. Self-help addiction recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) recovery are so important because they connect recovering alcoholics who need guidance and support.

I once heard that, in reference to being an alcoholic in recovery, "My own best thinking got me here."

This implies that by ourselves, we are destructive and problematic, so we need to have other people in our lives to help us with this journey.

Willingness as a Virtue in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

As it pertains to addiction recovery, willingness speaks to an individual's desire to change old behaviors. Without the willingness to go to any length to achieve sobriety, an alcoholic will not be able to attain any length of solid sobriety. An alcoholic's thoughts and behaviors contribute to their illness of addiction to alcohol, and that must be combated by a desire to change. These days, I remain focused on willingness by placing my recovery at the center of my life.

Without any one of these virtues, someone in recovery from alcohol addiction is likely to stumble, if not fall, back into active alcoholism. In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of their sayings is, “Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.”

Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 NY.

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APA Reference
Doyle, B. (2016, July 7). H.O.W. Virtues of Recovery from Alcohol Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Becky Doyle

David Roppo
April, 20 2017 at 9:54 pm

I agree that honesty and willingness are essential components to recovery. First, you must acknowledge that a problem exists, and you must be willing to address it. Honesty is also important since there is often a great deal of secrecy and untruthfulness that surrounds alcoholism and other types of addiction as well. Very valid points in your article, Becky.

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