When you’re dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can seem like all they do is tell lies. Lies about what they’re doing, where they are or who they’re with. The lies can be so constant, it’s hard to believe anything that comes out of their mouth. Many families find that they no longer can trust their loved one, and this is something that doesn’t return just because the addict or alcoholic goes to treatment. Once trust is destroyed, it’s hard to get it back.
So why does your loved one lie in the first place? For a couple of reasons. Let’s take a look.
- Addicts and alcoholics want to preserve their addiction. The addiction is essentially doing the thinking and talking for your loved one, and the only thing they care about is maintaining the addiction. In their minds, lying gets the other person off their back and stops them from having to face the reality of the problem. Anyone that tries to stop the abuse has no place in their life.
- Addicts and alcoholics don’t want to face reality. The addiction has robbed your loved one of their true self, and they are no longer recognizable to themselves or others. Since it’s too difficult to face reality, the addict creates their own reality where drugs and alcohol aren’t problems.
- Addicts and alcoholics are in denial. Denial is a protective mechanism that serves us well in some instances, but not in this case. Denial prevents the addict from getting the help they deserve, and if your family is in denial, it can delay necessary encouragement. But denial is persistent is addicts and they often feel like everyone else around them is the enemy and they aren’t doing anything wrong.
- Addicts and alcoholics feel they are the exception to the rule. We’re all taught that drugs are addictive and bad, but it’s common for addicts to feel like they live outside these boundaries. You may hear your loved one saying that they can quit when they want or handle their use.
- Addicts and alcoholics feel ashamed. It may sound surprising to learn that an addict can actually feel embarrassed about what they do, but during sober moments, they often do. The trouble is that it’s difficult to acknowledge and work through these moments, so the addict goes looking for their next round to numb themselves.
- Addicts and alcoholics get away with it. The families of addicts aren’t always sure what to do. You can probably relate. So they turn a blind eye to what’s going and buy the lie. When the addict sees that they can tell any story and have it be accepted, the cycle continues.
So what are some of the lies that addicts and alcoholics tell their families and loved ones?
- I can quit anytime I want.
- I’m under a lot of stress right now, that’s why I’m drinking more.
- My drug use is nobody’s business but my own.
- I’m not hurting anyone; it’s my body.
- I only drink on the weekends.
- That DUI wasn’t fair; I wasn’t that drunk.
- I drive better after I’ve had a few drinks.
- My doctor prescribed these medications, so they’re safe.
- I know people who are way worse than me.
- I do a great job at work or school, so I can’t have a problem.
- I only smoke marijuana; I only drink beer and wine.
All of these lies are intended to downplay the extensiveness of the problem and make it seem like the addict or alcoholic has everything under control. And sometimes, it can actually appear that way.
Not all addicts or alcoholics dive into the deep end right away. Some are able to maintain their jobs and home life for a while, and it may appear that the person is simply going out and taking life a little less seriously. But it doesn’t take long to realize that the drugs or alcohol are taking more importance in their life. It won’t be long before they take precedence over everything – the person’s career, family, friends, bank accounts, safety, etc.
It’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting to deal with an addict, but accepting the lies and lying to yourself will get you nowhere, except closer to a lifelong addiction. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or you know for a fact that the abuse is out of control, it’s time to get your loved one help. Stage an intervention. Talk to a counselor. Reach out to a treatment center. You have options. Lying shouldn’t be one of them.