Addiction is a powerful disease that many people wouldn’t wish on their worst enemies. It can change the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can also be marked by compulsive, risk-taking, and harmful behaviors that affect both the addict and their loved ones. One of the ways addicts cause devastation in the lives of people they love is by lying.
If you love someone who is suffering from addiction, it can be confusing to understand why he or she keeps lying to you. Although you are fully aware of your loved one’s addiction and feel as though there is no reason for them to hide things, your addicted loved one may see the situation differently. Remember, addiction is a disease. Your loved one isn’t a bad person–he or she is sick and needs treatment.
Understanding why addicts lie, what kinds of lies they tell, and how to react when they are lying to you can help you support your loved one and uphold healthy boundaries. Not falling victim to their lies or enabling lies is essential to getting your loved one to accept the help they need.
Top Reasons Why Addicts Lie to Their Loved Ones
Learning the thought processes behind your addicted loved one’s lies can help you understand his or her condition, identify lies being told, and empower you to hold up the truth in front of your loved one’s eyes. Some reasons why people who struggle with addiction may lie are:
They Are Trying to Preserve Their Addiction
Drugs and alcohol are physically and mentally addictive. People who suffer from addiction need the substance they are addicted to in order to avoid getting physical withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings. Over time, people come to rely on substances just to feel normal. As a result, addicts will go to any lengths necessary to continue their addiction–including lying.
Eventually, lying becomes an act of self-preservation. Your addicted loved one may feel as though they can’t survive without their drug of choice, and if that means they have to lie to use that drug, they will.
They Are Trying to Avoid Hurting Their Loved Ones With the Truth
People who suffer from addiction rarely try to intentionally hurt their loved ones. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Many addicts don’t realize just how much their behaviors are affecting others. However, in the event that telling the truth would hurt a loved one, addicts may not hesitate to lie.
Your addicted loved one may lie to you about their drug use because they don’t want you to worry about them. Or, they may lie because they know how hurt their parents, siblings, or children would be if they found out the truth.
They Are Lying to Avoid Their Problems or Confrontation
Many people use drugs and alcohol to escape painful emotions or stressors in life. When confronted with one of these emotions or stressors, they may lie to avoid discussing the situation. They would rather use substances to cope and ignore their problems.
Similarly, many people who suffer from addiction will lie to avoid confrontation. Whether it is a confrontation with an employer, a friend, a family member, or the police, a lie can feel like the easy way out.
They Are in Denial About Having an Addiction
Denial is extremely common among people affected by addiction. Admitting to oneself that help is needed and the substance abuse is out of control is painful. It is also scary. As a result, denial often kicks in as a coping mechanism, causing addicts to refuse the help they desperately need.
If your loved one is lying to you about their addiction, they may be in denial about the severity of their substance use. They may feel too ashamed to admit the truth. Situations involving denial can be handled by hiring a professional and staging an intervention.
Common Lies People With Addiction Tell
Your addicted loved one may lie about everything from minuscule details about their day to more serious matters pertaining to life, work, family, and more. Things addicts may lie about include:
- Who they spend time with
- What they are doing with their spare time
- Why they were late for work or a social event
- How much or how often they use a substance
- Anything pertaining to money and finances
- Relationships with romantic interests, friends, family, and coworkers
- Incidents with the law
- Suspicious or strange behaviors
- Weight loss, scabs on the skin, scars, or other sudden changes in behavior
- Having control over their substance abuse
- Getting help for their addiction
Sometimes, your loved one may lie so well that it is as though they believe their own lies. Other times, they will get confused and mix up their lies, making it evident that you’re being lied to. Whatever the case may be, lying about one’s addiction is a sure-fire way to know a person needs help.
What to Do When An Addict Lies
Nobody likes being lied to. You may feel angry, deceived, and manipulated, but it is important to react in a calm manner. First, you should pause and reflect on the fact that your loved one is sick, and that he or she is not a bad person. Your loved one’s judgment is affected by their substance abuse and their lies are not meant to hurt you.
Next, you may calmly confront your loved one. Let him or her know that you care about them and are not judging them, but you know they are being dishonest. If your loved one seems receptive or remorseful, this may be a good time to offer your help in locating treatment for your loved one. However, if your loved one becomes defensive, angry, or aggressive, you should take a step back, reassure your loved one of how much you care, and avoid the subject until you can seek help from an addiction or mental health professional.
Where to Find Help for an Addicted Loved One
Repeated lies can damage family relationships in devastating ways, especially if the lies continue for a long time. The best thing you can do for your addicted loved one is to help them get into treatment.
Here at New Jersey Addiction Intervention, our team can help you stage an intervention and convince your loved one to get the help they need. Contact us today to get started.
Medically Reviewed: November 25, 2021
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.