Why Do People Lie in Active Addiction?

If you have a loved one with a drug or drinking problem, you will gradually notice various changes in their behavior and personality as their illness progresses. For example, you might find they are hiding things from you, including information about where they’re going and how much money they’re spending. While this deception happens for various reasons – including an attempt to conceal signs of addiction – it can create trust issues in your relationship.

Learning more about the relationship between lying and active addiction can provide valuable insight. It can also help you understand how to respond to the dishonesty more productively.

1. Avoiding Confrontation and Change

Misguided coping mechanisms are the root cause of many people’s substance use disorders. When someone routinely uses mind-altering substances to sweep their problems under the rug, their ability to deal with life’s stressors in healthy ways weakens. At heart, they know they’re hurting themselves and others, but they’ve decided to continue doing it because it’s the only thing they feel comfortable with. They might lie to you because they are reluctant or afraid of what might happen if they lose the sense of security provided by drugs and alcohol.

2. Enabling by Family and Friends

Whether you have a gut feeling that your loved one is lying to you, or you have proof because you’ve found evidence like empty pill bottles, you might be unwilling to admit that you know the truth. That’s an example of enabling, which allows people to continue drinking or using drugs without experiencing adverse consequences. Though enabling may come from a genuine desire to help your loved one, going along with the lie ultimately doesn’t benefit either of you.

3. Brain Changes

An addiction such as alcohol use disorder can change parts of the brain such as the frontal lobe. This damage can increase the potential for irresponsible behavior such as increased risk-taking or lying. If your loved one frequently lies to you, there could be a physiological cause – in other words, they have an impaired ability to make decisions that are in their best interest. That’s even more reason to be compassionate and encourage them to make a fresh start.

4. Shame and Guilt

Often, people in active addiction carry a tremendous burden of shame and guilt. They are embarrassed to have a problem they can’t solve on their own, and they might lie to avoid further disgrace. Going along with their dishonesty won’t do anything to alleviate the emotional pain and distress they feel. Instead, it will prolong the problem.

Saving Lives for More Than 50 Years

At Cumberland Heights, we’ll evaluate you to understand your unique needs and work to create a customized treatment plan to transform your loved one’s life. We offer a range of services for treating substance use disorders, including 12-step immersion, family support and an outpatient program. To learn more about how we can help you, please reach out to us today.