Lying and addiction go together like smoke and fire.
It’s virtually impossible to have one without the other. There are a number of reasons why people with substance abuse issues are less than truthful to their family members and friends, as well as to themselves. Some of them have to do with a type of self-protection, while others are linked to the effects of the disease itself.
Lying, Addiction, and Family Relationships
There’s no doubt that the lying and manipulation that is part of addiction takes a toll on family relationships. People who thought they could count on their loved one being a trustworthy person are hurt and shocked to find that he is prepared to look them in the eye and lie if it means feeding his addiction. Many family members believe their loved one when he says that if he is helped “just this once” that he will give up drugs or stop drinking.
It can take time for the family members to realize the person they have known for years is not being truthful to them. It’s especially painful to discover that a beloved spouse, child, or sibling is capable of treating those close to them in that manner.
Why They Are Untruthful
Two of the reasons why someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol lies to the people closest to them are because this behavior is a symptom of the disease itself and because they are trying to protect themselves from the consequences of their behavior.
1. Lying Is a Symptom of Addiction
When someone is fully engaged in an addiction, she experiences cravings for her drug of choice. The urge to use becomes so powerful that other considerations, such as being truthful, are not a factor. The only thing that matters is satisfying the craving. All of her resources will be put toward meeting this need.
You may have heard of addiction being referred to as a brain disease. Repeated exposure to addictive drugs or alcohol results in changes to the way an addicted person thinks and reasons.
The addictive substances have an impact on the ability to think objectively, make plans, and develop goals. It’s very difficult for someone to stay focused on school or work when they are numbing themselves with chemicals.
They may lose track of how much they are drinking or using. Some people feel they don’t have a problem as long as they are able to continue to go to work or school each day. The addicted person lies to themselves and those around them, rather than admitting that they have a problem.
2. Lying Is a Means of Self-Protection
As a loved one’s addiction takes hold, it’s not uncommon for one or more family members to confront him about his drug or alcohol use. The family may express sadness, disappointment, or anger at the addict’s actions. This type of situation is quite stressful, since one of the reasons that someone may turn to drugs or alcohol is to avoid strong emotions.
No one wants their loved ones to angry with them or even worse, disappointed in them. The addicted person may say anything they can think of to lower the tension and get the spotlight off themselves. They may promise to stop drinking or doing drugs if they can just get some help “this time” or make a deal to seek treatment “as soon as…” some outside event takes place.
The outside event could be anything from when the addicted person qualifies for health benefits at work to when her children get a bit older. Some people who have a substance abuse problem will go down a list of excuses why they can’t stop or seek treatment so that they can deflect the discussion away from themselves.
During sober moments, an addicted person may feel ashamed of who they are and what their life has become. Rather than face up to their feelings of guilt and shame, they may lie as a way of avoiding them.
If someone appears to be having a good time and enjoying a party lifestyle, it’s difficult to see that they are really suffering inside. The addict continues to drink or use drugs to keep the negative feelings at bay. They may say they are having fun or enjoying the experience, but this is probably not the case.
Great Oaks Offers Help for Clients and Their Families
At Great Oaks Recovery, we understand that addiction is a family problem. We offer a family program for loved ones to help them understand addiction and the importance of getting help for themselves. Our program will show you how to support the recovery process without putting your own wellbeing at risk.