Why Do Addicts Lie?

If you’ve ever loved an addict, you know it is one of the most heartbreaking and frustrating experiences you’ll ever face. Individuals who struggle with drugs and alcohol often say just about anything to explain and justify their addiction. Eventually, you will discover a pattern of manipulation and lying, however, you may not understand why addicts lie. Sadly, lying and manipulation are basic behaviors tied to addiction and substance abuse.[1] Oftentimes, individuals begin to think that their addicted loved one is just morally damaged. However, this is far from the truth.

Let’s take a deeper look at why addicts lie as well as how to take care of yourself as you help them throughout their battle with addiction.

A Cycle of Lies

Unfortunately, it is common for addicts to be unable to tell the truth. Lying through addiction is one of the most common indicators of the disease of substance abuse. For friends and family, the idea that the addicted individual is choosing alcohol or drugs over loved ones is quite a burden.

It may feel as if you’re trapped in a cycle where the addict:

  • makes a promise
  • appears to be keeping said promise
  • fails to meet a promise/expectation
  • denies there’s a problem,
  • gets caught or hits rock bottom
  • restarts with new promises

Loved ones who struggle with substance abuse often convince themselves and others that they are in control of their use. They may experience deep feelings of shame, regret, and self-loathing about their actions. However, they find themselves unable to become free from the pain. In other words, the lying and manipulation that comes with addiction is a part of the disease. Your loved one is most likely behaving in a way that is completely against their true morals, values, and beliefs, however, their addiction is not allowing them to see it.

While the broken cycle may leave you frustrated and hopeless, turning a blind eye to it is never the answer. While your loved one deserves to heal from their addiction, you also deserve to heal from the effects of their addiction.

the cycle of lies

The Pain of Addiction-Related Lying

Addicts may lie right to your face about substances, whether it’s drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or both. Unfortunately, addicts lie to everyone, including their children, parents, friends, co-workers, and even their bosses. Individuals in an addict’s inner circle will become acutely aware of what’s going on. However, an addict will live in denial, convinced that nobody knows about their addiction that they are desperately attempting to hide.

If you have a loved one who is an addict, you are likely waiting for the day when your loved one wakes up and decides to attend addiction treatment. It’s important to your own self-care that you realize that day may or may not come. Additionally, you must become content with the idea of never knowing whether they will stop abusing substances.

Nobody can make an addict change, except for themselves. It’s important to remember that you didn’t cause their addiction, and, therefore, you cannot fix it. Never place that burden on yourself. However, what you can do is:

  • provide love and support (only to the extent you feel comfortable)
  • set clear boundaries with your loved one
  • steer them in the direction of help, resources, and support
  • accept that your care and support may not motivate them to attend treatment or stop using

Dealing With Destructive Addiction-Related Behaviors

People who struggle with addiction to substances often live a life of deception and manipulation, against their own will. When confronted for their addictive behavior, it’s common for them to use classic verbal abuse techniques such as:[2]

  • blaming
  • accusing
  • denial
  • trivializing
  • countering
  • blocking
  • diverting
  • anger and rage

If you’ve faced these techniques from your addicted loved one, you may have had to make some hard choices about how to move forward with your self-care. Unfortunately, you may have become consumed with trying to understand your loved one’s behavior as well as helping them recover.

During that time, you may not have protected yourself or practiced good self-care. If that’s the case, you should consider visiting a counselor or therapist. Choose someone with experience in treating addiction and the effects it has on loved ones, so you are able to better grasp how you have been impacted. Additionally, it may be wise to attend family therapy with your addicted loved one, as this may help to mend any broken aspects of your relationship.

Getting Your Loved One Help for Addiction

At Addiction Intervention, your loved one will have the opportunity to begin a journey of lifelong recovery from drugs and alcohol. We have state-of-the-art facilities and utilize only the most effective evidence-based treatment modalities.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, we are here to help. By using a personalized approach to addiction treatment, we make sure that each and every one of our patient’s unique needs are met. Additionally, our focus is on treating the disease, rather than only the symptoms. We pride ourselves on putting our patients first, every step of the way.

Our addiction and alcoholism treatment programs include interventions, detox, residential treatment, and partial hospitalization programs. Our rehabilitation programs utilize a comprehensive recovery approach, addressing your physical, mental, and spiritual needs for increased and optimized wellness. Contact us today for more information on how to get started.


  1. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/adb/
  2. https://labs.la.utexas.edu/buss/files/2015/09/tactics_of_manipulation_1987_jpsp.pdf

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