Lies! Lies! Lies! How to Understand and Combat Lying in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery and Treatment

The truth about Lying.  How to recognize lies, understand them, and use that knowledge in recovery and treatment!

Lies! Lies!  Lies! How to Understand and Combat Lying in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery and Treatment

It’s true!  Addicts lie. They lie all the time.  They lie to everyone and at the top of the list of recipients are family and friends.  They lie to their employer, they lie to their spouse, and they lie to their children and think nothing of it. It’s an extreme betrayal of trust!

Why do addicts lie so much?

Addicts have very good reasons to lie.  They have a destructive habit and don’t want to admit it, or accept it, so they try to protect themselves by telling lies about their addiction.

They don’t want to accept that their habit is out of control and so they lie in an attempt to disguise the fact or hide the truth.

If you talk to an addict about their problem, you’ll immediately understand.  You will hear a complete denial of the problem or some twisted version of why it isn’t a problem.

You may hear a lot of explanations and excuses but most of them, if not all, will be plain and outright lies.

Addicts are the greatest victims of their lying. They lie to themselves about having an addiction; they rationalize and make excuses for their behavior, and they easily distort and twist facts to suit their stories.

These liars have a mental illness of sorts. They can be Pathological liars or Compulsive liars and can be very skilled and practiced at using lies to manage and protect their addictions.

Let’s take a deeper look into why the addict tells lies in the first place:

They Lie to Cover Up and Keep Their Addiction Secret

The most common and overused lies in addiction are related to addicts sneaking around and trying to keep their addiction secret and hiding their illegal and illicit affairs and behavior.

That secretive behavior is because dealing with and being addicted to illegal substances or prescription drugs that are either stolen or obtained illegally is a criminal offense and punishable by serious jail time.

Of course, they will try to keep that a secretive operation and protect their sources and keep their habits and methods very hidden.

They will constantly tell lies to protect their habit and will shun and stay away from anyone trying to interfere with their abuse or addiction.

Lies Bring Attention and make the Person or Situation Look Better

People whose lives are a complete disaster will lie to try to make themselves look better.  They create stories, and each one is more amazing than the last.  They will say and do anything to bring attention to themselves in a different light than that of a dysfunctional addict.

Craving attention and succeeding at building an audience, the lying can increase to a point where they don’t even know that they are lying and can’t discriminate the truth from the lie. Neither can the audience usually.

Lies Show the Individual as a Constant Victim

Another tactic used by liars is always making themselves look like victims and making the audience feel sorry for them.  It’s a tactic to shift the blame elsewhere when they cannot accept their frailty and weakness.

Most of the stories you hear about their bad luck, blame shifting, accidents, abuse, or other horrible events are completely fictional or half-truths that are exaggerated out of proportion.

The Individual Has Poor Self-Esteem

Addicts with low self-esteem will lie to cover up their weakness and inadequacies either real or made up.  They try to make themselves look better in the eyes of the people around them and will say or do anything to accomplish that goal.

It makes them feel better to live a lie about who they are and about their supposed accomplishments or achievements. They can’t live with reality and prefer to create stories and a fictional life that is better than the one they have.

They Lie Because They Are Ashamed

Addicts lie because they are ashamed of what they have become.  They are ashamed of their weakness, and the path of destruction they are following.

Addicts know and understand that the path they follow leads to even more debilitating behavior, but it makes them feel better to lie about it and create stories and try to cover up their shame.

Addicts and alcoholics are in denial.

Denial is common in addicts and alcoholics.  They feel like they aren’t doing anything wrong.  They deny that they have a problem and treat everyone around them trying to help as the enemy.

Unfortunately, this behavior pretty much prevents them from getting any recognition and help for their problem.

Lying as a way of life

People in the lives of addicts and alcoholics know about the lying but are not always sure of what is true and what is not. In many cases, the families and friends of addicts recognize the lying and just learn to deal with it.

As the addiction progresses and deepens, the lying gets worse. Lying becomes a way of life, and it becomes almost impossible for them to tell the truth.

They Lie to Avoid Confrontation

Addicts cannot live with the truth of their illness. They seem confrontational, but they hate confrontation or any challenge to their freedom and ability to maintain their habit and avoid it if possible.

They use their addiction to cope with stress and anxiety and avoid dealing with any confrontation unless they can depend on the drugs to mask their fear and get them through the tense situation.

They Lie Because Others Often Go Along With the Lies

Why do addicts and alcoholic lie?  They lie because they can! We inadvertently permit them.

We enable the lying because we want to avoid a confrontation.  We permit them to lie by not challenging the lie or the behavior.

We let them get away with it because we get tired of the drama and the emotional scenes that can sometimes take place when there is a confrontation.

Recognizing Lies.

“How do you know when an addict is lying? Their lips are moving”.

It’s not hard to recognize a lie when you hear one.  There are a lot of common lies in addiction, and once in a while a new and rare one pops up, and you’ll recognize it instantly.

Here are some examples of the lie that addicts tell their families and friends.

  • I don’t have a problem; I only drink beer and none of that hard stuff.
  • I know people that are a lot worse than me.
  • Butt out! It’s nobody’s business but mine!
  • I only drink on the weekends.
  • My medications are prescribed by a doctor, so it’s ok.
  • I’ve got a lot of stress right now, so that’s why I’m drinking/taking drugs.
  • You don’t understand me.
  • I am not addicted, I can quit whenever I want.
  • I’m not hurting you or anyone else; it’s my body and my life.

These are just examples of what you can hear. Most of these lies that we hear are specifically meant to minimize the problem or the degree of dependency.

It’s important to an addict that everything seems normal or that there is an acceptable reason for the behavior.

It seems that all you hear from an addict is a constant barrage of lies and stories. They lie about everything.  The lies are so well rehearsed that it’s hard to tell a lie from reality.

It eventually evolves into a trust issue. There are so many lies and untrue stories that you being to lose trust in the addict and no longer believe anything they say.

Once trust is lost it’s hard to get it back. Even after successful recovery and treatment the shadow of a doubt is there and will remain there until a new habit and reputation of honesty are firmly displayed.

Lying as part of a Dual Diagnosis: Addicts Also Suffer From Mental Illness or Personality Disorders such as Pathological or Compulsive Lying.

Pathological liars and Compulsive liars are addicted to lying. This habit of constant lies and deception is associated with alcohol or drug addiction.

This extreme level of lying is recognized as being part of many different disorders. In Addictions, such as drug addiction or alcoholism, lying is one of the symptoms of that disorder.

The Difference between Pathological Lying and Compulsive Lying

There is a difference between pathological and compulsive lying but we usually just think of lying as simply lying and don’t consider the deeper level of the problem.

It’s important to understand the difference. Let’s look first at the definitions that apply to addiction:


adjective: pathological; adjective: pathologic

Informal:  compulsive; obsessive.  “a pathological gambler.”

synonyms:  compulsive, obsessive, inveterate, habitual, persistent, chronic, hardened, confirmed. “a pathological liar.”


adjective: compulsive; resulting from or relating to an irresistible urge.

synonyms: irresistible, uncontrollable, compelling, overwhelming, urgent.   “a compulsive desire.”

informal: pathological    “a compulsive liar.”

irresistibly interesting or exciting; compelling.

These definitions sound pretty much alike, but there are marked differences that pose different challenges for people dealing with them. A few noteworthy differences between the two include:


  • They usually believe their lies.
  • They cleverly concoct and plan their lies or stories.
  • Their lies can sound so real that you can’t tell they are lying.
  • They get very defensive if confronted.
  • They carefully execute exact control over their lies.


  • They know their lies are untrue but can’t stop saying things that are untrue.
  • They dance around with lies and don’t have a reason for telling them.
  • They tend to lie out of habit.
  • There is rarely any evil intent or desire to cause injury.
  • They will easily confess their lies if confronted.

The two types of lying may look the same, but if you look closely you will see that the pathological liar is more of a ‘professional liar,’ is dedicated to his lying, is practiced and rehearsed and methodical.

The compulsive liar, on the other hand, is more spontaneous and ‘off the cuff.’ There isn’t any serious planning or rehearsal but more of a spur of the moment and free will action.

Do recovering addicts still lie

Does a cat have whiskers?  Of course, they do.

Lying is a way of life and a tool used in addiction, and that includes the recovery and treatment processes.  Getting clean and sober does not erase years of hardcore practice in the art of lie telling.

The completion of a recovery and treatment program is a good time to begin paying attention to the possibility of a lie being told and immediately confront the person.

It is part of the recovery and treatment; learning to deal with reality and slowly dissolving the fantasy belief system that comes with lies and stories.

It will eventually straighten out, but it could take some time.

What is the Treatment Process for Lying?

We are speaking here about lying as a part of an addiction.  In this context, we most likely recommend treatment to be part of the overall recovery and treatment plan or program.

Rather than individualizing lying and treating it separately, we consolidate it into the treatment plan as a ‘component’ of the addiction and treat it accordingly.

In some serious cases, a pathological liar will need specific therapy for his illness that can be a separate component but considered in the overall plan.

Everything depends on the individual. Each one may be quite different. Lying can be discussed and evaluated while working with your intake specialist at the recovery center you are working with, or considering, for your long-term recovery and treatment program.

Getting Help

Lying, in any form, whether Pathological or Compulsive, is a major consideration in any recovery and treatment effort.  Active substance abuse and addiction depend on it to survive.

If you, a friend, or a loved one has addiction problems and you recognize how lying is part of their behavior, you can get in touch with the Hotline at your Recovery Center and discuss the problem and possible solutions.

The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment.  Call anytime.

Chateau Recovery Center
375 Rainbow Lane

Midway, UT 84049, USA
Phone: +1 435-654-1082

Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program.

If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

Here are a couple of extremely powerful videos regarding lying.:


Why do addicts lie? Why can’t they just be honest?

People who are in a relationship with an addict are consistently hurt by lies and manipulation. However, an addict’s lies have more to do with maintaining their addiction than a desire to hurt the ones who love them.


Why Addicts Lie To The Ones They Love?


Coming Soon!

PDF Report:

“Lies Addicts Tell”

How to recognize lies that addicts tell and know how to handle them.

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