The Three Biggest Lies Addiction Tells

April 29, 2014 Becky Oberg

Addiction lies to us. In Alcoholic's Anonymous we call it "stinking thinking." Do you see yourself in these three common addiction lies?

Addiction can be one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. In my case, alcoholism both fuels and is fuelled by my psychiatric conditions. As I've progressed in therapy, I've learned that everything addiction told me is a lie.

Addiction Lie #1: Sobriety is Terrible

One Christmas Day I miscalculated the amount of alcohol I had at my apartment. This resulted in an addict's worst fear: I ran out. I forgot that it is illegal to sell alcohol on Christmas Day in Indiana and wandered all around downtown Indianapolis searching for alcohol. I remember thinking, "I'm sober! This is terrible!"

That realization was my first indication that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. A few months later, I checked myself into rehab and haven't had a drink since.

Addiction lies to us. In Alcoholic's Anonymous we call it "stinking thinking." Do you see yourself in these three common addiction lies?In my active addiction, I dreaded sobriety. I believed that alcohol was self-medicating, and to some extent it is, but at best it masked my symptoms and at worst made them worse. Sobriety was when I heard the voices and had thoughts of self-harm and suicide. When I was drinking or drunk, things were bearable. Ever since becoming sober last year, I've noticed that the voices are gone. The self-harm remains, but I can fight back against it. I don't have to be miserable. I don't have to cut.

Sobriety is a wonderful thing that only those who have it understand. I can truly say I'm grateful to be sober, if only because my psychiatric symptoms are in check.

Addiction Lie #2: I can Stop any Time I Want To; I just Don't Want To

If you've ever said this, chances are good you're addicted to whatever it is you think you can stop. Try stopping and see how badly you want the substance--if you have to have it, if you can't live without it, you're addicted. As the joke goes, "If I could drink like a normal person I'd drink all the time."

In my active addiction, I often said this. But even I knew it was a lie. I didn't want to stop, yet I did want to stop. I liked what alcohol did for me--stopping the voices and creating the feeling of euphoria--yet I didn't like the consequences of drinking. I didn't like the poor financial state or the paying homage to the porcelain god, the morning after. I wanted to stop, but the truth was I couldn't. I needed help.

Ask yourself if you can go without it for a day. If you can't, chances are you're addicted. Look at your life outside the addiction--if you have no outside life and your life revolves around getting and using the substance in question, you're addicted. If you don't want to stop, chances are you're addicted. Acknowledging the addiction is the first step toward recovery.

Addiction Lie #3: I'm Functioning; it's not a Problem

In Alcoholic's Anonymous (AA) we call this "a case of the yets," and it's an insidious lie for many people with a substance abuse problem. I haven't lost a job--yet. I haven't been arrested--yet. When we compare our substance abuse to the DSM-IV criteria, we may find ourselves thinking, "That hasn't happened." But it's important to add the word "yet."

A mental health professional once told me that since I was functioning, my alcoholism wasn't a problem. She was wrong. In fact, at the time I was seeing her on an emergency basis due to an alcohol-fuelled suicidal state.

While I never lost a job or got arrested due to my alcoholism, there are times when I should have lost a job or been arrested. While I managed, for the most part, to stay out of trouble while a drunken college student, there were signs that something was wrong. It was obvious to everyone except me that even though I was functioning, it was a great mystery as to how.

Beware the yets.

Change the Stinking Thinking

These three lies mark an addicted state, but they're only three examples of lie-based thinking that substance abuse or substance dependence encourage. To recover, you have to stop listening to the lies. You have to change your stinking thinking. As we say in AA, it is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. Go through the motions enough and you'll find that they become your way of life. Truth has a funny way of triumphing when you give it a chance.

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APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2014, April 29). The Three Biggest Lies Addiction Tells, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Becky Oberg

April, 12 2017 at 12:01 am

Thank you. I needed to read that.

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