We’ve all told lies, for one reason or another.
You and me, yes, we have. We’ve told the “little white” ones, and occasionally, we’ve come out with the huge, the crazy, and the badly-thought-out whoppers, regardless of who we really and truly are (excuse my poor attempt at humor…).
Whether we’re parents, children, teachers, students, preachers, members of the congregation, bosses or employees – at some point or another, we have all weighed up a situation, and, believing there’s a good chance we’ll get away with it, we’ve thought to ourselves, “Just this once.”
Most people feel guilty about telling lies, and, again for most people, being deceptive does not come naturally.
“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”
– Georges André Malraux, French novelist, art theorist, and author of “La Condition Humaine”
However, for some, it’s like they were born to it – they are the real experts, the ones who make those “whoppers” sound remarkably clear, thoughtful, and even obvious. They are the ones who make you think, “Oh, of course, how could I be so stupid? That’s clearly what happened – it’s definitely the truth.”
Like the celebrated, “top-of-the-bill” illusionists and magicians appearing “Live Tonite!” in Las Vegas, they create a highly believable alternative to the truth. We fall for their tricks every time.
Fool me once, and all that…
The Lying Substance Addict
There’s another group of people, another kind of liar entirely – the addicted. Drug addicts and the alcoholics – the ones who constantly feel the need to lie, to deceive, and to muddy the waters to possibly cover their secret life from their loved ones, their bosses, their doctors, to name but a few (or they are quite capable of lying for other reasons, too), when, in reality, all they are really doing is flat-out lying to themselves.
If they’d only tell themselves the truth…
One day, a few years ago, I finally told myself that truth, and it went a long way to saving my life. Admitting to myself that my life was no longer worth the pain, the sickness and the cost of my addiction actually came as a breath of fresh air.
I gave myself a choice that day, a very liberating moment for someone like an addict who only sees one way to go on – to use or to drink. I could get help, or I could wait for the inevitable – an overdose or tragic accident. I chose the first option – getting help, and, thanks to a Phoenix detox facility, followed by an intensive treatment program, I finally found sobriety.
That was over 6 years ago now, and I remain forever grateful for the moment I finally told myself this cold, harsh truth. It meant I survived, and I remain sober.
Why Do People Lie About Their Drug / Alcohol Addiction?
Many people prefer to lie about their substance addiction until they finally reach the point where they completely understand they need to get into addiction treatment. In fact, the best way to resolve this compulsive behavior is to find recovery. After that, there’s really no reason left to be dishonest. However, when they are actively using or drinking, drug addicts and alcoholics lie for a number of reasons, and the most common are discussed below.
Once an individual finally finds recovery, if the behavior of “telling lies” begins again, it should be seen as a large, neon warning sign proclaiming that a relapse may be coming, and coming soon. If it can be recognized by the recovering addict, or a member of their support network, it is possible for the relapse to be averted.
Furthermore, when all is said and done, substance addicts simply want to continue using drugs or drinking alcohol because they literally see no other way, as a substance addiction will compromise their brain’s thought processes.
So, if lying helps to achieve that, then… lie. Here are the most common reasons why people lie about their addiction:
Secrecy: The most common reason for lying is to keep an addiction a secret – an addict lies not because they are scared of necessarily stopping either using or drinking, they lie because they are scared of the negative consequences should others know. They may be scared of the rejection, the abandonment, or the loss of employment.
Conflict Avoidance: Many individuals who struggle with addiction fear conflict or confrontation, and the inevitable upset to the way things currently are. It’s not uncommon for addicts to have both poor communication and conflict resolution skills.
In Denial: Certain people continue to live in denial of their addiction – they do not see it as an issue or, worse, the “chronic, relapsing brain disorder” that it is.
Shame & Stigma: Many people lie constantly because they are ashamed – deep down, they feel tremendous shame, because of the hugely unfair and false stigma continually attached to substance addiction.
Enabling: Loved ones – family and friends – are often at fault for “enabling” the addictive behavior. It is they who are scared of the upset to the status quo, the possible shame, and the potential for conflict and confrontation.
A Sign of Substance Addiction or A Sign of Desperation?
Let’s return to the question posed in this article’s title: Is Telling Lies Constantly a Sign of Drug or Alcohol Addiction?
To answer this, we’ll listen to the consensus of the addiction experts, who consider that although this compulsion to lie is nowhere near as powerful as the substance addiction itself, for the addict themselves, lying to avoid consequences can quickly become a part of an individual’s addictive behavior, and should, therefore, be considered an active sign of an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
As we said earlier, a drug addict or alcoholic solely wishes to continue their addiction, even if it is to the detriment of everything else, including their normal honesty. For them, constantly lying is a far easier way to avoid possibly compromising situations than telling the truth.
Gerard Bullen has been writing in the field of the U.S. addiction treatment for several years, including short, informative articles like this one, as well as white papers, medical research reports, guides, and opinion-editorials. Additionally, he is a member of the American Medical Writers Association.