As an addict, life is a game of survival. Day after day is dedicated to avoiding withdrawals and hiding the outward signs of chemical dependency. On top of that, feeding an addiction means developing an arsenal of psychological defense mechanisms. Simply put, addicts have to learn how to shield themselves from the reality of their behaviors.
Whether you label these defense mechanisms excuses or lies, it all boils down to rationalizing the addiction. And believe it or not, addicts lie to themselves more than anyone else. When your actions have tainted everything you once held dear, yet you continue participating in that pattern of destruction, lying to yourself essentially becomes the path of least resistance.
Here’s a look at five lies all addicts eventually tell themselves:
Lie #1 My addiction doesn’t affect anyone else.
This is probably the most universal lie among addicts. Despite seeing pain and confusion on the faces of loved ones, it’s easier to deny that reality. Instead, they see loved ones as enemies trying to dictate their paths in life. They confuse concern with control and often say things like “If I want to do drugs, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Lie #2 I’d never be able to manage my problems without drugs/alcohol.
For addicts, even the smallest life problems can become amplified. While it’s true that everyone has issues, addicts convince themselves there’s no way to work through them without self-medicating. They often feel like the world is working against them or they’re forced to endure more stress than everyone else. What they don’t see, however, is that alcohol/drugs make things much worse. In all honesty, addiction is likely causing a majority of their problems.
By telling themselves this lie, addicts can feel as if their substance abuse is somehow warranted. It allows them to justify being stuck in a drug-fueled rut. Their judgment eventually becomes clouded; they don’t realize a bulk of these life problems would go away if they’d only commit to a recovery plan and focus on personal growth.
Lie #3 I’m in control of my substance abuse; I can stop whenever I want to.
Control is a big deal for most addicts. This statement allows them to feel like they’re still calling the shots in life; they don’t want to admit they’re chained to their drug(s) of choice. Deep down, most addicts are desperately searching for some kind of justification and – if they can just convince themselves that addiction is a personal choice – it almost feels like they’re in control. Almost.
Lie #4 But, I’m not like so-and-so…he/she’s really in bad shape.
Addicts like to use other addicts as a way to gauge their level of substance abuse. They’ll say things like “Bob’s been busted for three DUIs, but I never get behind the wheel when I’m wasted.” As long as there’s someone out there who’s much worse off than they are, it’s easy to feel a little superior.
All this comparison really means is that the addict hasn’t fallen to a deeper level of destruction. If they don’t get help, however, it’s only a matter of time.
Excuse #5 I don’t care about my life and I don’t care if my addiction kills me.
One of the lowest points an addict can get to is the one where life becomes meaningless. They are so consumed with pain and grief that the depression seems to justify the rampant substance abuse. This is a vicious cycle: the more they use, the worse they feel. When there’s no joy or pleasure left in life, there’s no reason to seek out recovery.
In reality, abusing drugs/alcohol is the largest hurdle that holds them back from leading a productive and meaningful existence. Once clean and sober, they’re able to focus and start enjoying life again. They’re also able to embrace the love and support of family, get back to the friends who truly love them, and lead the authentic, meaningful life they’ve missed out on for so long.
If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol or drug abuse, help is available. Start by learning more about the signs and symptoms of addiction.
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