Are You Lying to Yourself about an Addiction?

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the principle signs of addiction is lying about your addiction to yourself and others. Most people who have a problem will lie to their families, friends, and doctors about their drug use. This is normal for someone attempting to hide an addiction. The problem comes in when you are also lying to yourself about your addiction. It is possible to lie to yourself without knowing it.

Although everyone has both positive and negative lies about a variety of issues, these lies are not necessarily detrimental. When you are lying to yourself about addiction, it is. Lying to yourself is a form of denial. In order to discover if you are lying to yourself, you need to know why people lie to themselves, the consequences of lying to yourself and how to identify behaviors that indicate you are lying to yourself.

Why People Lie to Themselves about Addiction

People lie to themselves for many reasons. Some of these reasons are internal defense mechanisms while others are to continue the addictive behaviors. People lie to themselves because:

  • They do not want to think they are addicted.
  • They are hiding their addiction from others and believe it when they say they do not have a problem.
  • They truly do not want to stop the addiction or behavior.
  • They are protecting themselves from the reality of their addiction.
  • They feel the need to place blame on the others for their problems.

Each of these are usually involuntary reactions to their addiction and a form of denial. Self-deception is a very common practice that addicts use. By denying they are addicted, they can continue to use without the guilt associated with destroying their life.

What are the Consequences of Lying to Yourself about Addiction?

As with any negative practice, lying to yourself about your addiction has some very serious consequences. Although not all people experience these consequences, they are very prevalent in addicts. A few of these consequences are:

  • Lying to yourself makes you not notice things that you probably should like:
    • What drug addiction is doing to your family,
    • What the addiction is doing to your job,
    • What the addiction is doing to your life,
    • How much of your free time is spent seeking or using the drug, and
    • The simple fact that you are addicted to the drug and are having a hard time stopping.
  • Lying to yourself makes it easier to lie to others. Once the lies about your addiction start, they lead to lies to other people. Common lies are things like:
    • I can stop any time I want.
    • I am not addicted.
    • I can control my drinking, gambling, or drug use.
  • Lying to yourself causes internal conflict. When you lie to yourself you often feel anxious when something happens to challenge that lie. Self-deception sometimes becomes an ingrained belief. When this happens, anything that challenges that belief causes emotional distress.

How Can You Tell When You are Lying to Yourself?

As with any type of deception, there are signs of self-deception, particularly when it comes to addiction. Some of these signs are easy to spot while others are not. If you want to know if you are lying to yourself ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you look for distractions to get away from your reality?
  • Do you believe you can face all of your problems, including addiction alone?
  • Do you find yourself denying that you are using too much of a drug?
  • Have you ever told yourself that you will only do something once, but find yourself overindulging?
  • Do you feel anxious when your addiction is mentioned?
  • Are you neglecting yourself and your responsibilities in favor of the addiction?
  • Do you tell yourself you can make up for missed work or school due to your addiction?
  • Do you find yourself questioning your addiction and then denying that you have a problem?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are probably lying to yourself about your addiction. Unfortunately, this practice is extremely common.

How to Stop Lying to Yourself about Addiction

There are ways to remove the veil of deception. A few of these ways are:

  • Identify what you are deceiving yourself about
  • Take action to correct what you are lying to yourself about
  • Correct the issue that is causing you to lie
  • Make the decision to stop lying to yourself
  • Stop denying the addiction and find a way to deal with it
  • Focus on changing what you can without setting your goals too high
  • Make sure you know yourself and be aware of what you are doing

Self-deception about addiction is very similar to the actual addiction. It is difficult to break the habits formed by lying to yourself.

According to the University of Texas, not all self-deception about addiction is negative. Sometimes especially in recovery the lies you tell yourself are positive. People in recovery sometimes come up with creative lies to get through another day of sobriety. Even though there are some positive aspects to it, self-deception is not generally a good thing. In order to correct the issues that self-deception brings, you have to recognize the signs of it and learn how to stop doing it. Deceiving yourself might make things go away for a little while; ultimately, it causes more harm than good.