Addiction and Lying: How are They Connected?

Addiction is rarely something that we proudly flaunt. There is, of course, a strong societal taboo against it. Addiction also involves quite a bit of lying and dishonesty, both to ourselves and to others. When we aren’t ready to recover, or even admit to the fact that we’re abusing substances, we do anything to create the impression that everything is okay.

Understanding this and making a commitment to become more honest is a necessary step in the recovery process. In this post, we’ll take a look at the relationship between lying and opioid addiction, and how we can break the cycle.

anxious young woman cover wing ears with hands sitting on chair

Why Do Addicts Lie?

To put it simply, dishonesty is the kindling that stokes the addiction fire. In order to defend oneself from having to face the reality of addiction and get help, addicts lie to themselves and others as a form of defense. Lies can be used to help get money for drugs, to obtain private time to take drugs, or simply to get people off of your back.

Lies might sound like any of the following statements:

● My doctor prescribed me this drug, so I don’t have a problem.

● I use X drug and not Y, which isn’t as bad.

● I would be able to tell if I had a problem, and I don’t.

● I can stop whenever I want to.

● I’m not hurting anybody.

● I don’t spend that much money on drugs.

● I only use in social situations.

● I need this drug to cope with my problems.

As you can see, all of these are things you can tell to yourself as easily as to somebody else. In fact, you may even believe some of them. The reason you keep insisting on these untruths is because they allow you to continue to abuse your drug of choice.

The second you get honest with yourself and with the people who care about you, you have to face the scary reality of having to make a change and all of the work that comes with it.

The Underlying Problem with Dishonesty

Most of us have been taught from a young age that it’s wrong to lie, but when it comes to addiction the consequences of dishonesty are even worse.

First, your relationships with your loved ones will suffer as a result of your inability to be honest with them, creating distance and tension. You may face issues of trust and potentially lose some of the relationships that are most important to you.

concerned couple sitting on bed apart

Beyond that, lying can also harm your relationship with yourself. While you may tell yourselves these lies on the surface, deep down you know that you’re not being honest with yourself. As a result, you may end up losing self-respect and self-esteem.

And, of course, by enabling your addiction, your lying can ultimately cause any of the many negative outcomes that come with substance abuse, from losing your job, to causing legal issues, or even untimely death.

How to Break the Cycle of Addiction and Lying

The implications are clear. In order to begin the journey to recovery, getting honest with yourself and with the people around you is a crucial step. So what can you do to break the cycle of lying?

Be Alone With Yourself and Reflect

Addicts often avoid quiet alone time because they don’t want to confront the realities of what their lives have become. Instead, they surround themselves with drugs, people, and noise as an avoidance strategy. So if you are ready to be honest, you’ll have to start taking the time to be alone, listen to your inner voice, and feel your feelings. Through honest reflection and practices like journaling or meditation, you may finally be able to face the truth.

Admit When You’re Wrong

There is so much pressure on us to be perfect. It can be very difficult to step back and admit our wrongdoings. But understanding that we’re all flawed, we all make mistakes, and it’s okay to apologize for them is a huge step in breaking the cycle of lying and addiction.

Open Up

A big part of recovery is learning how to be vulnerable. Vulnerable enough to be honest. Vulnerable enough to face the unknown. Vulnerable enough to feel your feelings. Vulnerable enough to take accountability for your mistakes. Vulnerable enough to admit when you need help. It will ultimately be one of the most important steps you take to stop lying, get honest, and recover.

About the Author

Paula Nicola, M.D.
Dr. Nicola is the Facility Director at Renu. She is a trained and board certified medical doctor with specialized training in addiction medicine.

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