If you’ve ever loved an addict, you know it is one of the most heartbreaking things you’ll ever face. People who struggle with drugs and alcohol often say just about anything to explain away their addiction. Eventually, you discover the constant manipulation, but you may not understand why addicts lie. You may even beg to understand out of your sheer frustration: “Why can’t you just tell the truth?!”
Let’s look more deeply at why addicts lie as well as how to take care of yourself as you help them fight addiction.
A broken record of lies
The sad fact is that addicts often cannot tell the truth. Lying through addiction is one of the most common hallmarks of the disease. For friends and family, the idea that the substance abuser is choosing alcohol or drugs over loved ones can be quite a burden. It often feels like you’re trapped in a cycle where the addict:
- makes promises
- appears to be keeping said promises
- denies there’s a problem,
- gets caught or hits rock bottom
- restarts with promises
Loved ones who struggle with drug abuse and/or alcohol abuse convince themselves and others that they are in control. They may experience deep feelings of shame, regret and self-loathing about their actions, but they are unable to free themselves from the pain.
While the broken cycle may leave you frustrated and hopeless, turning a blind eye to it is not the answer. You deserve to properly heal from this pain as much as your loved one does.
The pain of lying through addiction
An addict can lie right to your face about substances, whether it’s drugs or alcohol or both. Their children, their parents, their siblings, their friends, their co-workers – eventually, they will lie to everyone. Those who are in their inner circle will become acutely aware of what’s happening. But an addict will live in denial, convinced nobody knows about the addiction he or she is desperately trying to hide.
If you have a loved one who is an addict, you are likely waiting for the day when your loved faces his or her demons and asks for addiction treatment. It’s crucial to your self-care that you realize that day may or may not come.
Nobody can make an addict change. You can’t love their addiction away, so don’t place that burden on yourself. What you can do is to:
- provide love and care only to the extent you feel comfortable
- set clear boundaries with your loved one as to where that care ends
- steer them in the direction of help, resources and support
- accept that your care and direction may not motivate them to want to recover
Surviving the destructive path of an addict
People who struggle with addiction to drugs and/or to alcohol live behind of cloak of deception and manipulation. When confronted, they tend to use classic verbal abuse techniques such as:
- anger and rage
If you’ve faced these techniques from your loved ones, you may have some hard choices to make about how to move forward with your self-care. You may have become consumed with trying to understand why addicts lie and with saving your loved one.
During that time, you may not have protected or cared for yourself. If that’s the case, consider visiting with a counselor or therapist. Choose someone with experience in addiction so you can get a better grasp on how this has impacted you.
Recognizing an addict’s behaviors
When you can identify the techniques addicts use, it becomes more clear how an addict uses them to his or her advantage. Remember: the addict may not even realize they’re using these techniques. Confronting them about them alone is not always the best idea.
For example, countering is a dominant response of many addicts. Since the addict (when confronted) begins to view his or her loved ones as the enemy, her or she may argue against your perceptions.
Countering can be extremely destructive. It can prevent opportunities for healthy discussions. An person who consistently counters your concerns is impossible to know. Sadly, that is likely what their addiction needs to continue.
Trapped in an unhealthy cycle of lying
The lack of trust that stems from loved ones struggling with addiction can destroy relationships. When addicts lie and use abuse tactics, friends and family are often left feeling battered. Those closest may find themselves:
- internalizing how the addict feels and behaves
- wondering what they could have done differently or better
- suffering from more serious emotional consequences like depression and anxiety
If you are a loved one of a drug addict and or alcoholic, you may find yourself not only trying to understand why addicts lie. You may also discover that you’re conditioned to lie as well. You might find yourself lying to your children or other family and friends in order to protect the addict. Have you ever caught yourself explained away odd or questionable behaviors of the addict? That is enabling an addict, which only intensifies a pattern of destructive behaviors.
Taking care of yourself by finding balance
You will likely come to realize that you can’t control what an addict does or understand why addicts lie. What you can control is how you react. This includes taking care of yourself.
The addict has made his or her choices. Now it’s time for you to make yours. There are ways to support someone with an addiction, but you must make it a goal to take care of yourself in the process.
There’s a path of recovery for non-addicts, but it’s not easy. You may find it incredibly hard to let go of old habits and to relearn healthy ones. In your mind, it may seem like you’re abandoning someone you love.
But you’re not. Enabling an addict by lying for them or being constantly lied to is not healthy.
Share this video with someone in your life who may need help understanding why addicts lie:
We can help
At The Blackberry Center, your loved one will have the opportunity to begin the journey to lifelong recovery from drugs and/or alcohol in our state-of-the-art facilities.
If one of your loved ones is struggling with addiction, we can help. We use a personalized approach to addiction treatment. Our focus is on treating the disease, not the symptoms. We put our patients first every step of the way.
Our substance abuse-only treatment programs include detox, residential and partial hospitalization program. Our on-site rehab programs focus on a comprehensive recovery approach. They address your physical, mental and spiritual needs for optimal wellness. Your needs are unique. We treat you as such.
Reach out for help today
Your loved one may be struggling with long-term addiction. Or he or she may be fighting strong temptations. We can meet him or her where he or she is in the fight for sobriety.
We welcome your loved one to our treatment center. From support groups to individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with him or her.
Reach out to us online today. You can also call us at 888-512-9802.
Catherine Sklaroff Hale is a nationally recognized writer and autism advocate. She emerged as a voice that cuts through the clutter when she launched her own blog in 2008. Cathy has been featured in a variety of publications like Parents, Parenting, iVillage, Babble, Baby Center, Martha Stewart Living, The Guardian and Self.