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Why Do Those with Alcohol Addictions Lie?

Addiction is a condition, and alcohol use disorder is no exception. For individuals struggling with alcohol addiction, the robust and physical urge to drink can influence thought processes and decision-making. All the personality traits that define a person take a back seat to the need to satisfy the alcohol craving, including honesty. Lies in addiction are common and can destroy relationships by slowly eroding trust.

A person’s family, friends, partner, faith, and career can be overshadowed by the desire to drink often and heavily. Lying to get more alcohol is just one of the reasons why a person dealing with alcoholism no longer tells the truth. Knowing the motivation behind the dishonesty helps family members understand what is happening in the mind of their addicted loved one and respond appropriately. The best response is to seek professional treatment at an alcohol rehab center.

Michael’s House has over thirty years of experience in treating addiction. Call 760.548.4032 today and discover how we can help you or a loved one stop the lies in addiction and break the cycle.

Alcohol Use Disorder and Honesty

For someone struggling with alcohol use disorder and caught in the cycle of addiction, lying can contribute to living a double life. The life presented to others—families, friends, community—requires an intricate set of lies to stay one step ahead of being discovered. But perhaps the biggest lie someone with an alcohol use disorder tells themselves is that the lies are working and no one knows the truth. These falsehoods and “double-life” are driven by many reasons:

  • Preserving the addiction – Since getting and using alcohol are the most important things in an addicted person’s life, they will do whatever it takes to maintain their addiction. Their logic, which is really the exact opposite, is that they need the alcohol, and lying keeps people from holding them accountable so they can continue to use it. Lying becomes the only way to preserve their current way of life.
  • Avoiding reality – Alcohol use disorder requires that the person create a reality where they are doing exactly what other people want and expect from them when no significant change has actually occurred. They need the lies to please those who care about them and want them to get sober because the truth is, they’re still drinking and are close to losing everything.
  • Avoiding confrontation – It is unusual for the loved ones of a person struggling with addiction to sit by and do nothing. They ask questions and get angry when the answers aren’t what they want to hear. The stress of this conflict at each interaction keeps lies flowing to avoid confrontation. Those addicted to alcohol often lack the coping skills to deal with confrontation in healthy ways. Instead, they may lash out in anger, become defensive, or try to draw attention away from themselves by pointing out problems and inconsistencies in others. Lying about their alcohol use helps avoid confrontations that almost always turn ugly.
  • Denial – No matter how strong the evidence that there is a problem, the person struggling with an alcohol use disorder must deny the drinking and its consequences. Even when the evidence is overwhelming, they may choose denial because they can see no other way. Although denial can give someone needed time to process the information loved ones share, it can become pervasive, causing many to believe that their family and friends are their enemies. The disease essentially uses denial to ensure its survival.
  • They believe they are different – When a person addicted to alcohol acknowledges it has become a problem, they must convince themselves that they are different in order to continue using. “I’m not like those people. I can handle my alcohol use,” is often the response, allowing the person to continue the lie that they are OK.
  • Shame – When someone has a sober moment or hour, the shame, embarrassment, and regret over their choices can become overwhelming. Unable to work through these feelings in appropriate ways, they turn to alcohol and lie again by presenting a persona that is far from reality.
  • Because they can – Sometimes friends and family members match their addicted loved one’s denial with their own unhealthy responses. Turning a blind eye and making excuses for their loved one’s behaviors because the pain of the truth is too much to bear simply enables and reinforces the lying behavior.

The lies used to perpetuate alcohol addiction can be used for virtually any type of behavior. The same lies that keep someone from getting help can also be used to keep drinking. Lies in addiction are detrimental and a sign that the person needs professional help.

Coping With Lies People with Addictions Tell

Coping with the ongoing dishonesty associated with alcoholism can be challenging. You want desperately to believe your loved one recognizes the need for help, but you know in your heart that they are only saying the words you want to hear. Trying to tell the difference between their lies and reality can leave you emotionally exhausted and feeling hopeless.

That’s why taking care of yourself during this time is essential. Reaching out for help from others can provide needed support as you learn to help without enabling. Part of dealing with an addicted loved one is having a plan in place when the person lies to you. When you understand that the only behavior you can change is your own, you can approach your loved one’s lies differently. When you can recognize and stop your own enabling behaviors, you can move your loved one closer to asking for help.

In addition to that understanding and recognition, there are several ways to plan ahead and respond appropriately to dishonesty:

Don’t Take the Blame

Your loved one may turn the responsibility for their choices on you. Don’t buy into it. You are not to blame for their choices. They are the only one who can choose to stop using alcohol.

Don’t Take It Personally

It’s easy to think that if your addicted family member loved you, she would stop lying about drinking. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and it’s not about you. Because addiction changes the brain, your loved one may no longer be in control of their behaviors. Lying has become a compulsive part of their disease.

Don’t Try to Control the Situation

Family members naturally try to do everything in their power to stop their loved one from drinking. Rescuing every time there is a crisis makes it easier for your loved one to return to alcohol instead of getting the help she needs.

Don’t Accept Unacceptable Behavior

Making excuses for your loved one’s behavior while she is intoxicated only perpetuates the dishonesty you’re trying to stop. Physical and emotional abuse and hurtful or negative comments can permanently damage emotional health. You have choices and can choose not to tolerate this kind of behavior from your loved one.

Don’t Put Off Getting Help

Sweeping an alcohol use disorder under the rug for years will not make your loved one well. The only way to move forward is to face the truth and make choices that will motivate your addicted loved one to do the same. You can’t change their behavior, but changing your responses to their behavior can make a massive difference in both of your lives.

Michael’s House Can Help End the Lies in Addiction

Recognizing that your loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder and that their dishonesty is contributing to the problem is an important step toward recovery. At Michael’s House, we can help you take that step and change your enabling behaviors. Call 760.548.4032 or contact us online for more information and to help you find treatment for your family and your addicted loved one.