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Why Do Addicts Lie?

lieWith addiction, comes deception. Addicts often tell more lies than they do the truth.[1] There are several explanations for this behavior.1

  1. To Preserve Their Addiction.1 An addict will do whatever they have to in order to maintain their addiction.1 The substance has become their number one priority. Their logic is as follows: I need drugs, and lying helps me continue to be able to use them.1 It becomes a method of self-preservation.1 No one and nothing that comes between an addict and their substance has a place in the addict’s life.1
  2. To Avoid Facing Reality.1 Addiction completely reorganizes the addict’s priorities and consumes their identity.1 After a while, the addict is unrecognizable to themselves and to others.1 At that point, the truth becomes too painful to face, and an alternate reality is constructed within their minds.1 There, the substances are not the problem, and they are doing the right thing.1 They begin to live in this world and lie to themselves and others to continue to stay there.1
  3. To Avoid Confrontation.1 As an addict self-destructs, few loved ones sit back and watch.1 Instead, they ask questions, become angry, and try to convince them to quit.1 This interpersonal stress is overwhelming for an addict.1 As their coping habits are already sub-par, they resort to doing or saying whatever it takes to avoid seeing the disappointed look on their loved one’s face—including lying.1 They become defensive and lie to draw attention away from their addiction and place it on the other person’s vulnerabilities instead.1
  4. They Are In Denial.1 Denial allows the addict to avoid their problem and ignore the consequences of their behavior.1 It is easier than dealing with it. Addiction needs denial, rationalization, and projection to ensure its survival.1 The addict begins to believe their own lies to protect themselves from the truth: their problem.1
  5. They Believe They Are Different.1 Often, addicts believe that they don’t have a problem, that they can stop any time they wish.1 They don’t see themselves as an addict—they’re different.1 These self-lies allow them to continue their behavior.1
  6. They Are Ashamed.1 During moments of sobriety, addicts often feel extreme shame, embarrassment, and regret.1 As they are unable to work through these emotions, the cope by using more of their substances.1 To keep up with their appearance, they lie to paint a picture of themselves that others find more flattering than the truth.1
  7. They Can.1 Friends and family sometimes match the addict’s denial with their own.1 Instead of facing reality, loved ones try to act like it isn’t happening.1 It is too hard to bear seeing someone you love become a slave to addiction.1 However, their own lying perpetuates their loved one’s addiction.1

Lying causes an addict to feel isolated and their loved ones to feel angry.1 No one can be forced out of denial, but there are steps that can help illuminate the reality.1



[1] Anonymous. (2014). 7 Honest Reasons Why Addicts Lie. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2014/03/7-honest-reasons-why-addicts-lie/

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