You CAN live a SOBER LIFE again - CALL NOW for treatment options (800) 260-2109

The Biggest Lies Addicts Tell

D.E.N.I.A.L.

Don't Even kNow I'm Always Lying (to myself)

Distorted perceptions result in choices and actions that are self-limiting at best and destructive at worst. Addiction turns a person's worldview into a black and white kaleidoscope. Everything is either completely good, bad, or insignificant. There are no shades of gray. The thing that comforts me is killing me and I must deny this conflict to continue.

Active addiction is nearly impossible without constant self-deception. If I convince myself that the lies I tell myself are true, am I lying? Those who love me are torn. They want to trust me. My disease preys upon their dis-ease.

  • "I can walk away anytime."
  • "I'll stop after I get through this."
  • "I can handle it."
  • "It hasn't cost me anything so far."

I said those things often, not to reassure others, but to convince myself. Minimizing, rationalizing, justifying - they're all nice words for lying. The biggest lies of all: “I'm okay. I'm in control. I'm fine.”

I'm F.I.N.E.

Freaked out Insecure Neurotic and Evasive

Lucid moments are disturbing. Music gets past my defenses. Perfect metaphor: I'm driving 100mph in my car and crying because of a song on the radio:

"I'm not okay. I'm not okay. I'm not okay." - My Chemical Romance

Delve deeper. Frantically search for evidence that I'm still successful. Find the thing that hasn't crumbled yet. Focus on it. Amplify the minor victory. It all turned out okay in the end. Overlook the cost. I lie to myself by omission with the help of a "built-in forgetter" (recovery adage for losing track of things that hurt and/or scare me). I twist inconvenient truths into things I will figure out once things slow down a bit.

I woke up one day with an image I couldn’t erase and some proof I couldn’t deny. Hitting bottom is usually not a singular event. It's only one arrest, one jail sentence, one DUI, one divorce...

Addiction takes away everything good. The closer I came to rock bottom, the more I came to believe that there's just nothing I could do. I saw myself as a lost cause - hopeless. F-it. F-me. Nothing left to lose anyway.

"It's been a while since I could say that I wasn't addicted..." - Staind

Kaleidoscopes spiral because that's what they do. I couldn’t separate the truth from the lies anymore. I wasn’t even sure which way was up any more. Then the lies start with: "I just want..."

  • To be happy
  • To feel normal
  • To get back to where I was before
  • To have my job/car/license/place to live

Self-pity distorts perspective. Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another drink. Relapse. Doing it different this time. I can handle it now. I've learned from my mistakes. New friends, new job. Geographical remedy. Fall in lust. Take a hostage - an enabler or co-conspirator. Three and a half weeks later, get engaged. Why wait?

Maybe live to tell the tale. Maybe become another example of what not to do. Find a new bottom. Remember - not everyone gets to try again. Most of my favorite people today were once written off for dead.

I experienced the best thing that can possibly happen to an active addict - the lies stopped working. I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. I received the gift of desperation - lost and broken, I experienced a newfound willingness. I went to any lengths to stop suffering and start living.

Living doesn't always feel good, but it's honest and it's real and you'll be able to remember it later. The truth is the most powerful means by which to combat addiction. As an addictions counselor, my living is largely made by looking folks in the eye and repeating what they've just said to me. The lies are easier to spot when you hear someone else speak them.

Maybe you'll become the power of example. You'll stand before those who are unsure of anything, but being broken. You'll be able to say to them, "If I can do it, anyone can."

Folks in recovery are the very best storytellers. Maybe we'll embellish just a bit in explaining how you've transformed. No harm in that. Poetic license is creative and benign lying.


jim-lapierreJim LaPierre LCSW, CCS, is a recovery ally, clinical therapist, and addictions counselor. He publishes weekly for the Recovery Rocks section for the Bangor Daily News and welcomes your questions and concerns via [email protected].

 

Related Articles

What to Expect When You Enter Addiction Counseling
The decision to seek help is a critical step in the recovery process. Addiction cannot be navigated alone and by enlisting the support of professionals, you can begin an individualized journey that addresses your unique needs. Below, you will find descriptions...
Top 10 Gifts for Your Newly Sober Friend
A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer. ― Seneca When a friend or loved one enters recovery, it’s safe to assume that they’re experiencing both physical a...
What to Expect When You Enter Rehab
I went into rehab to save my marriage, but I wound up saving myself." - Michael Douglas What is Rehab? Entering rehab can be an intimidating, but necessary step in the addiction journey. When outpatient interv...
House Passes CARA Bill to Fight Opioid Epidemic
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Friday in a unanimous vote of 407-5 to fight the opioid epidemic. With existing support from the Senate, the bill is expected to swiftly move from Congress to President Obama for approval. While
What to Expect After One Year Sober
Reaching one year sober is a milestone worth celebrating. Often described by addicts as a physical and emotional “roller coaster”, the first twelve months of recovery are a force to be reckoned with. There is no shortage...
How Much Does Addiction Treatment Cost?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the second most common reason people did not receive substance abuse treatment is due to a lack of financial resources or a lack of health insurance. This follows the No. 1 reason, which is th...
10 Things to Expect in Early Sobriety
While your recovery is yours to design, it’s important to first recognize some universals that exist on the road to success. My personal and professional experiences with addiction have afforded me with a clear sense of some “givens” that will...
What Makes a Good Addiction Treatment Experience? Patients May Not Know, Study Says
Today, there are about 23 million people that struggle with addiction in the United States, yet only about 10 percent receive the treatment they need. Why do so many people not receive help? One reason could be that patients may not know what...
The Biggest Lies Addicts Tell
D.E.N.I.A.L. Don't Even kNow I'm Always Lying (to myself) Distorted perceptions result in choices and actions that are self-limiting at best and destructive at worst. Addiction turns a person's worldview into a...
Admitting You Have a Substance Abuse Problem
For many, the hardest step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. Denial is a powerful tool and often carries addicts through years of unnecessary suffering. According to a 2009 survey by SAMHSA, only 11% of the 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol problem received...