Addiction is a disease that affects people in multiple ways. Suppose you’ve never faced substance abuse or dependency. In that case, it can be difficult to understand the motivations behind, and effects of alcohol and drugs can have on an individual despite obvious negative consequences. The sad reality is that substance use disorder can change a loved one who was once trusted into someone unrecognizable for family members and friends. The struggle is understanding how an honest and forthright person becomes an accomplished liar. Why do addicts lie?
Substance use disorder is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a brain disorder that causes an intense need for a substance despite detrimental consequences. The NIDA explains that “addiction can take over a life and become all that a person can think about. A person may do anything to keep using alcohol or drugs, even lie or steal.
Substance Use Effects on the Brain
It’s a common question to wonder: why do addicts lie? To understand, it’s critical to understand how substances can rewire the brain. The National Institute of Health (NIH) provides clarity on this topic, asserting that the brain undergoes physical and chemical changes when exposed to substances like alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications. Studies show a strong correlation between the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed and the disruption in the brain’s overall functionality.
In a healthy brain, exercise, eating, and bonding triggers reward signals that, in turn, make a person feel more excited, happy, and well. The purpose of these brain signals is to reinforce good behavior, particularly those associated with positive mental and physical health. When facing addiction, the disruption of normal brain activity works against a person. Specifically, the effects of substance use hijack the reward and pleasure pathways, which leave them craving and depending on prolonged use. Additionally, danger-sensing circuits are sent into overdrive, which can cause or contribute to anxiety and a number of other co-occurring mental health issues.
Eventually, a person addicted to alcohol or drugs will feel empowered to do or say anything to obtain the same level of euphoria. There are also areas of the brain that control morality. Studies reveal that continued use can damage the ability to make rational choices. As a result, a person using alcohol or drugs can become a master of deception.
Why Do Addicts Lie?
Addiction experts continue to examine the role brain functionality plays in this chronic disease. As new evidence is collected, addiction support grows to incorporate new treatment methods. For example, preventive measures are critical, particularly for adolescents who are more vulnerable to alcohol and drugs’ lasting effects. Science reveals the sooner addiction is detected, the higher chances of long-term recovery. Lying may serve as an early warning sign that substance dependency is present for acquaintances, friends, and family members.
But why do addicts lie, exactly? A number of reasons explain why a person may be motivated to lie. Reasons such as to:
- Avoid being punished
- Obtain an award
- Protect another person
- Win admiration
- Avoid embarrassment
- Maintain privacy
- Control information
These same motivations are also present in those with substance use disorder (SUD). They may lie to themselves and others, particularly their drug use habits and people with whom they associate. According to the American Addiction Centers, the types of lies told by those suffering from alcohol and drug dependency can include:
- I don’t have a problem.
- My addiction doesn’t impact anyone else.
- I can’t manage my problems without drugs and alcohol.
- I’m in control of my substance abuse. I can stop whenever I want.
- But I’m not like others who abuse drugs. I can still function normally.
- I don’t care about life.
Leading what can amount to a double life can be exhausting, so why do addicts lie?
1. To Preserve Their Addiction
As previously mentioned, the brain—under the heavy influence of alcohol or drugs—can not make rational choices. A person with SUD may feel that they have to do whatever is necessary to maintain their addiction. Their logic may convince them that they need drugs, and they must tell lies to keep others from suspecting or interfering with drug use behavior.
2. To Avoid Facing Reality
Addiction has long been tied with intense feelings of guilt and shame. A person may not want to continue using harmful substances but may be powerless to stop. Flooded with guilt and shame over the inability to control urges, they may feel compelled to lie to keep others in the dark, avoid judgment, and preserve the most important relationships.
3. To Avoid Confrontation
Battling alcohol and drugs does not only impacts the user. Addiction also affects loved ones, family, and friends. One of the hardest aspects of living with someone with substance use issues is watching them self-destruct. Rather than idly watch, many family members and friends will begin questioning actions and growing angry. Interpersonal conflict can be overwhelming for someone with SUD, causing the need to lie in order to avoid such confrontations.
It may be cliché, but in order to begin the recovery process, it’s common to state that a person must first accept that they have an issue. The nature of alcohol and drugs can distort reality in a way that makes it difficult for a person to see the full extent of the problem and its lasting consequences. Denial is incredibly common in those who abuse substances. What’s more, denial can serve as one of the primary roadblocks in effective recovery. This chronic disease can use tactics like denial, rationalization, and projection to avoid facing the dangerous realities of addiction.
5. Exception to the Rule
Why do addicts lie, even when they’re faced with the detrimental effects of drugs? In the early stages of addiction, a person may experience euphoria followed by urges to use casually. Eventually, patterned use begins to develop. At first, it may seem possible to balance daily life obligations like work, family, or school. However, as tolerance to a substance builds, dependency may start to present itself. A person may be convinced that they are the exception to the addiction rules. They may believe that they will never lose control. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, normal behavior is quickly replaced with erratic and unstable behavior.
Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is not a simple process. After all, dependency usually doesn’t happen overnight. As the disease progresses, the isolation many with SUD experience may become more pronounced. Lies and rationalizations are a root cause of the anger, and disillusionment family members often feel.
Addiction Lies: Distraction from the Real Problem
The factors that contribute to addiction are endless. While lying serves as a warning sign that drug dependency is a possible issue, the underlying causes of SUD are not always as clear. Continually lying and deceiving loved ones helps to ensure that a person can continue using. It also serves to divert attention from a real solution: pursuing recovery.
It’s often thought that individuals must hit rock bottom before they can successfully recover from alcohol and drugs. However, more recent studies indicate that this assertion is unfounded. Early intervention is usually most effective, and it’s critical that loved ones do not wait until drug dependency reaches a level of despair.
AspenRidge REACH: Offering Online Addiction Support
Why do addicts lie? When is an appropriate time to seek recovery assistance for alcohol and drugs? These are commonly asked questions for family members with a loved one battling alcohol or substance use disorder. While answers may vary among sources, it’s critical to understand that addiction treatment is proven to help individuals overcome substance dependency. There are numerous pathways to sobriety, but all begin in relinquishing lies that have developed over time.
If you or someone you love is abusing substances and lying about it, it might be time to consider an intervention. Online substance abuse programs through AspenRidge REACH remove many of the barriers that individuals with SUD often face, which can include:
- Life obligations
Our integrative substance abuse treatment programs work to address the underlying causes of addiction. We combine dual diagnosis support while addressing specific substances. Additionally, our therapy-based methods help resolve some of the interpersonal conflicts surrounding drug abuse, including being dishonest and secretive. Our programs include:
To learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs, contact us directly 24/7 with questions and concerns. Call 833-90-REACH.