It’s common knowledge that secrecy and active addiction often co-exist; people tend to hide their substance use or the consequences of it. But those of us in recovery sometimes continue holding things in. If you’ve spent years hiding addiction, it can become a habit to lie—if not outright, then by omission.
Why Do People Lie During Addiction or Recovery?
David Sack, M.D., writes for psychcentral.com, “Addicts (often very convincingly) lie to their loved ones to keep them around, to the world to avoid stigmatization, and to themselves to preserve their drug habit. They lie about the big things and the small things–to feel important, to avoid rejection or judgment, to keep up appearances–until they’ve created a fantasy life that is far more tolerable than their current reality.”
While lying itself can create stress and drive people to continue using, this brings up another important point; addiction is often about using external means to soothe internal struggles, and recovery means creating a reality you want to live in without using emotional pacifiers. If you lie to escape reality, it might be because your life still feels unbearable. You may not have learned healthy tools for coping with difficult feelings; we’ve shared some tips for doing so here.
Apart from lying about their substance use, people in active addiction may live a life that doesn’t feel right to them. This is in part because it’s hard to know what does feel right when drugs and alcohol are a main motivating force. Recovery provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know yourself. It gives you the time, energy, and motivation to try new things. Learning more about your interests means you will be closer to living authentically.
Engaging in Other Compulsive Behaviors During Recovery
Sometimes people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can transfer addictive behaviors onto other things. I tend to do this when I’m at my most stressed; since I’ve been sober, the only time I lean towards secrecy is when I have an impulse to engage in other compulsive behaviors.
The first step is recognizing the urge to hide; only in noticing it exists can you challenge it. This happens through repetition and practice. It also helps to have a therapist who can point out patterns you may not be able to see. Whenever I want to hide a compulsive behavior, I reach out to a few supportive people in my life with vulnerable honesty. I tell them what I’ve been doing, thinking, and feeling. Doing so brings almost immediately relief.
While I don’t use AA, I agree with the common AA saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” When you’re in recovery, it’s important to remind yourself that you no longer have any reason to hide.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a life that feels authentic and true to you. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.