You say yes, I say no. You say stop. But I say go, go, go. That very well may the opening lines of a popular Beatles song, but it is also the internal conflict that goes through your mind when you finally decide it is time to leave your addiction behind. Your addiction is telling you, yes…but your tired mind is telling you it’s time to go. So why do we stay so long in this destructive path of behavior? Why does it take so much heartache for us to leave it all behind? How come it is so hard to pull that mask off? Well let’s take a better look at all of that…at least how it pertained to my 14 year ride.
Losing just about a decade and a half of my life to substance abuse is a great deal of time I can never get back. But the reason an addiction can survive so long is completely parallel to one of its finest qualities…all addictions come with the Gift of Gab. That is to say they can sell you anything. They do this by getting the individual to learn to lie to himself first. Once you learn to lie to yourself, lying to anyone else who comes across your path is like a Turkey Shoot.
Addictions put a lot of money into their Public Relations Department. They work so hard at PR, they can get just about anything passed through your own Congress. After all, did your addiction not win the Popular Vote in your life? The lies that consume all of us may certainly be of a different variety, but I am sure many hit all too close to home. “I’m only affecting myself”…”I need these substances to deal with my problems”…”I’m nothing like Joe Addict, he really has a problem”…”I can stop anytime I want to”….and the Grand Daddy of them all, “I don’t care about my life and I don’t really care if it kills me”. Phew, sound familiar? It’s these lies that are the charging station making sure our addiction is well nourished and ready for another day of destruction.
Addicts lie for a number of reasons. The most obvious reasons that addicts lie about their addiction is to preserve their addiction and a way of life they have become comfortable in living. Addicts also lie because they fear facing reality because the truth is too painful to face, and it is easier to live in a constant state of denial rather than facing the truth. Additionally, addicts lie because they feel they are different from others and they can “handle it on their own”. No matter the reason, the act of lying in addiction keeps them stuck in their addiction, and their problems only grow worse over time.
Those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol will resort to any means necessary in order to continue their substance use…and that includes lying to themselves. The truth is the first casualty of addiction, and like the disorder itself, the lying becomes chronic and progressive and slowly spreads throughout every facet of an addict’s life. The lies that addicts will tell themselves in order to perpetuate their addiction eventually spreads to telling lies to family, friends, employers and anyone else they know.
When an individual is fully in the grips of an addiction to drugs and alcohol, they tell themselves and others lies more often than they tell the truth. Lying becomes second nature and automatic behavior. They don’t even realize they are lying. For the addict, living this double life is extremely exhausting because they always have to be “spot on” in the persona they create. It is this creation they have made that ultimately comes apart at the seams…taking the addict down with it.
So, who wouldn’t want to be an addict? Why would you want to change what your addiction is telling you is fine? That answer is pretty simple, because nothing is fine. Your marriage is not fine…your parenting is not fine…your friendships are not fine. Your integrity is so far blown that you cannot even stop lying to yourself. In fact, there is nothing normal about you.
That decade and a half I mortgaged off to get high, as bad as that sounds, fell short in its bid for its real prize…I survived it. My survival only became an option when the lying stopped. And just as the first lie an addict tells is to himself…so goes the first truth of sobriety. In order to even have a shot at recovery, the addict must first tell the truth to themselves…you are a drug addict. The truth that you have been living a lie out there for so long now. Addictions cannot die if you don’t stop believing their lies. Kill the lies and kill your addiction.
When unbiased reasoning and truth is replaced with denial and deceit, the addict’s mind begins to construct an existence that is based on lies and obscure behavior. Unknown to the addict, they are the first to fall victim to the false world they have created. Addicts are masters at concealing the truth about their actions. This is no fault of their own, but is merely one of many negative manifestations of their addiction. Lying and addiction go hand-in-hand. By engaging in sober behaviors and practicing sound methods to induce logical thought, the addicts odd behavior can be both explained and overcome. Addiction isn’t just a feeling. The brain is changed in ways that are only repaired through time and maintained sobriety. It is possible to revert back to a normal and logical way of thinking. Harm and disruption don’t have to be permanent fixtures in the lives of addicts and their loved ones. Broken brains can be repaired. Addictions can be defeated.