How Addictive Behavior Leads to Pathological Lying
When you have an addictive behavior that is illegal or generally frowned upon by society like alcoholism, lying and deceit can become second nature. Addicted individuals don’t just lie to their loved ones; they also perpetually lie to themselves.
Lying is actually such a common component of addictive behavior that many experts accept it as part of the addiction process as a whole. As a friend or a loved one of an addict, there are a number of considerations to be mindful of with regard to the pathological lying.
Why Your Loved One Lies About Their Addictive Behavior
While there are absolutely some reasons addicts lie that are unique to the individual, there is a general construct as to why lying plays as integral of a role in addictive behavior as it does.
- They Lie to Cover Up the Addiction– This is the most common form of lying addicts engage in. Since almost all drug addicts are engaging in illegal, destructive behavior, it becomes second nature for them to lie. To the addict, lying equates to survival.
- They Lie to Avoid Confrontation– Loved ones and family members of addicts often find them to be confrontational. In reality however, these individuals more often want to avoid confrontation than anything else. So many drug and alcohol abusers rely on their addictive behavior to serve as a coping mechanism that they don’t possess the skills to handle the stresses of confrontation.
- They Lie Because They Are Ashamed– It’s very common for individuals with substance abuse problems to lie about their addictions because they are ashamed. On some level the addicts know that their behavior is self-defeating and having others point that out, especially people whose opinions they value, can cause them great shame.
- They Lie Because Others Often Go Along With the Lies– Friends and loved ones are often guilty of enabling the addictive behavior to avoid a confrontation. What they don’t realize however is by avoiding one problem, they are in fact creating a much larger one. By going along with the lies, they are essentially giving the addict permission to continue lying to them.
- They lie because they want their own way and they believe they are in control. In fact, if anyone is an “addict”, the implication is that they are distinctly out of control. But since they are believing a lie, they then perpetuate the lie, and will say that everyone else is wrong and they are right.
- They lie to protect the addiction, because it is their way of anesthetizing their inner pain, turmoil, insecurities, or any number of other underlying causes. Truth is too painful to face.
- They lie because they are rebellious. Many addicts lie because they just don’t want to be told what to do. They actually believe that how they are living is “being free” from the control that the world around them would want to impose.
Learning how to support your loved one through their addictive behavior can be very challenging. It can be difficult to not get your feelings hurt when you feel like you’re constantly being lied to, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s important to try and remember to not take it personally, as the lying is not actually about you, but the addiction itself. Mercy must triumph over judgement.
Stopping lying would mean that the addicted individual would need to own up to the addictive behavior, and actually take responsibility for their lives, and their broken and painful past, which can serve as a huge deterrent. The best thing you can do is to be open and honest with the addict while also giving them the clear message of support and encouraging them to face their demons.
Letting go is a difficult component in the equation but is necessary. “Letting go and letting God”, is a hallmark phrase in the recovery world. The addict needs to learn this as well, but the loved one of the addict or alcoholic must practice it as well. When we love people we must learn to “hold on loosely” to them. They must make their own choices and decisions that 99% of are destructive. We cannot be an amatuer providence in their lives; we have to understand that we cannot save them. We can’t “make sure” they don’t do anything that they shouldn’t through codependent behavior. They themselves hold the key to freedom by choice. When the addict, like anyone else, chooses to surrender, God and freedom become available to them, and then true change and freedom is possible.
Finally, when we stop lying and start receiving truth, God is able to open our eyes to the Truth and see the lies for what they are. That they are not protecting us but destroying us. “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.”
BH/ Destination Hope – Adapted