The Lies We Tell Ourselves in Addiction
Addiction can transform our normal, routine habits into a chaotic, unpredictable mess. Often, it causes us to begin to be dishonest with ourselves about our current situation. Many times it’s easier to distort reality than to face it head-on. The lies we tell ourselves in addiction begin to impact every area of our life, as we become experts in embellishing and misleading ourselves in order to preserve our pride. Unfortunately, these lies begin to add up to a personal life that is out of touch with how things actually are. Here are some of the common lies we tell ourselves in addiction:
“I Lost Control in the Past, but This Time Will Be Different”
Individuals struggling with addiction are often able to acknowledge to themselves how they’ve previously lost control drinking or using drugs. However, when it comes to the present moment, this inconvenient truth is often thrown out the window. Instead of coming to terms with being out of control with one’s substance abuse, it is easier to simply tell oneself that things will be different and that those situations were in the past.
This lie is incredibly alluring, as it allows us to believe that every time we decide to use a substance, we are doing so with a clean slate. Unfortunately, past actions are a major indication of how the future will play out. Simply telling ourselves that things will be different this time is not enough to overcome the overwhelming trend towards using substances with an unchecked sense of control.
“Life is Hard and I Deserve to Use This Substance to Cope”
A common refrain many people addicted to drugs and alcohol use to justify their substance abuse is that they ‘deserve to use’ due to the hardships they have experienced (or still experience) in their life. While it is certainly understandable why someone would decide to use substances as a coping mechanism for traumatic or difficult life circumstances, it is ultimately an untrue statement in the overall scheme of life.
Stating to oneself that you ‘deserve to use’ overlooks the incredible amount of damage that substance abuse can have on all aspects of a person’s life. Instead of focusing on the substance as the thing you deserve to have, think about the underlying feeling you are seeking as a result of using and find a healthy alternative to replace the addictive behavior. If you’re seeking comfort or relief, find an activity which will fulfill this desire without also negatively impacting your physical and mental health in the process.
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“I Don’t Use Every Second of the Day, Therefore I’m Not Addicted”
It can be easy to believe that one’s addiction isn’t that serious if we have a small window where we aren’t using drugs or alcohol. However, an addiction doesn’t necessarily equate to being intoxicated every second of the day, as there are varying degrees of severity when it comes to addictive behavior. The truth is, if our substance use has become a dependent behavior, we must face the reality that we are dealing with an addiction. No amount of bargaining with ourselves about how much we are using is going to change this fact.
“I Haven’t Missed a Day of Work Due to Using, so I Don’t Really Have a Problem”
A common lie addicted individuals will use to avoid facing their condition is to use their ability to function within their behavior as evidence that they aren’t really addicted. Those scenes of out-of-control addicts in movies and television can allow a person to believe their problem hasn’t reached the point of becoming a problem, as they aren’t as bad as those people.
If you are a functioning addict, it is much easier to lie to oneself about the problem. There hasn’t been a stark instance where your addiction cost you a job, relationship, or other valuable part of your life. However, simply because you are able to function within your addiction does not mean that you don’t have a serious problem which needs to be addressed. In fact, many addicted individuals are able to function within their life’s responsibilities for years prior to coming to terms with their condition. Remember: you can function and still be addicted.
“I Can Quit Anytime I Want”
This untruth is one of the most frequently-used lies by individuals suffering with addiction, as it allows a person to believe they are still in control and that their substance abuse is not an issue. By telling yourself that you can stop anytime you want, you are ignoring a painful reality that your behavior has reached the point of becoming a serious dependence. This is one of the most powerful lies we tell ourselves in addiction, as it gives us the illusion that we are still in control while still allowing us to use our preferred substance.
“I Don’t Want to Burden Anyone Else with My Addiction”
One of the biggest reasons individuals addicted to substances suffer in silence is due to the belief that being honest about one’s addiction will be a burden to other people in our life. Indeed, it can be an intimidating prospect to admit a problem exists and discuss this issue with those closest to us, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as a massive burden to unload. The truth is, loved ones who truly care about our lives are usually going to view this level of honesty as a positive step, as they may already suspect that a problem exists. While honesty is not always the easiest prospect, it is more likely to result in a positive outcome in the long-term than continuing to lie about the issue.
If you find yourself being untruthful regarding your addiction and are in need of professional assistance, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today to jumpstart your life on the path to recovery. We offer a solutions-focused approach which is uniquely-structured according to each person’s situation. Leave behind the lies and start living the honest life you deserve today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.