Relapse is a more complicated and drawn out process than most people like to give it credit. No one accidently shoots heroin or binge drinks, it doesn’t ‘Just Happen’ like so many people like to describe it. Like they went to sleep one night with strong and resilient sobriety and woke up dead drunk with no clue how they got there. Relapse has many symptoms and related behaviors that show up far before the actual act of using or drinking again actually takes place.
Lying is a clear cut symptom of what some may call ‘relapse behavior’. As part of a new series of articles we will be taking a closer look at some specific behaviors that tend to be detrimental to spiritual fitness and the principles of recovery and that are typically signs that relapse is a more real possibility than we would like to give it credit. Not saying that it is a definite, but these actions are the kinds you want to watch out for, and lying is a serious indication that your slacking in some area on staying spiritually fit or sticking to your principles. Now do NOT let this article come across as self-righteous because I will gladly admit here that I lie. I’m an alcoholic and drug addict, of course I’m not perfect. But this is what I have noticed, and what has been frequently pointed out to me.
Why is Lying Dangerous
Lying is dangerous to those of us in recovery because it can lead us to things like:
- Reverts us back to other old behaviors
- Causes our support group not to trust us
- Causes us not to trust others
- Get us back in the habit of manipulation
- Goes against principles of humility
- Feeds into negative ego
- Creates more lies and conflicts
These are just a few examples of how lying to others, or even to ourselves, can endanger our sobriety. Each point is very important in the grand scheme of how we conduct ourselves in our relationships and in our recovery, and these kinds of problems can develop over time into the barriers between us and an effective program when something else comes us and we have the temptation to go back out. Lying is one behavior that lays the ground-work for all types of negative behaviors, and can set the stage for a relapse.
Lying to others
Lying to the people around us can create resentment, distrust and conflict because it cuts us off from being honest and open minded. Lying to our peers about even the smallest detail can compound into a larger form of deception if we allow it to evolve from there. Lying to a sponsor in recovery is detrimental because it maintains your reservations and undermines that relationship. It probably won’t harm them directly, but it poisons your personal recovery, same thing when lying to your family and friends for whatever reason.
In my personal experience, before my relapse I had noticed myself lying to people about small things. I lied to my family about where I lived, I lied to my girlfriend and my job, just little minute details that eventually toward my actually using and drinking again became more and more visual. I had prepared myself for my relapse by lying to people about where I would be and what I was doing the night I went to use, and I lied every chance I could once I used to keep using.
Lying to yourself
As reckless as lying to others is, lying to yourself can be equally as harmful to your continued sobriety. When you constantly find excuses or explanations for destructive or neglectful behavior you are co-signing the symptoms of a relapse. Remaining open-minded, honest and humble is a huge party of practicing the principles of recovery.
You can also lie to yourself and try to convince yourself you don’t need help, or you are no longer an addict or alcoholic. If you are like me, this is one of the worst lies you can tell yourself, because it will quickly evolve into a relapse if it goes unchecked.
Damages of Lying
takes a serious hit when you lie. Whether it is to others or yourself it is counter-productive to practicing humility, but lying to yourself to justify the other things you do or the way you act is one of the quickest ways to ‘shoot your humility in the foot’ as we used to say. Staying humble is about recognizing that we are not better or more deserving than others, and that remaining modest in regards to our own importance. So when we tell ourselves lies about why we can get away with THIS, or should not feel bad about THAT, or don’t need to take THOSE suggestions, that’s when we are feeding into our ego.
Lying to others and re-instating that idea in our minds that the truth is not as valuable when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient destroys our own trust. When we start basing our own actions and outlooks on the lies we tell, we start to perceive more of what we take in from others as lies. Being dishonest breeds distrust, and having faith in others and the program is essential to personal growth. I know because when I catch myself being dishonest, part of me immediately suspects others of being as shady as I am, or at least thinking up the lies I do, even when that is far from the truth.
When we lie we are abandoning key elements of our recovery. Honesty and being thorough and willing to work on the real problems is vital to recovery, especially when working with others. When you find yourself lying to yourself or others regularly, it is only a matter of time before you begin to act out in ways that are bad for you (if you haven’t already) because you now believe you can sweep it under the rug. Not just will you try to get away with more and keep poisoning yourself with more lies, but then things like guilt and shame and fear creep up on you. And fear in my own experience, whether it is recognized or not, is a big piece of a relapse. When we lie we are running, from ourselves, our peers, and the truth of our defects and our mistakes. As long as we can be open and honest in recovery, we need not run from life.
Lying to others and lying to yourself is one of the worse ways we sabotage our future and our relationships. Hiding the truth and making up excuses only prolongs our pain, and ultimately causes most damage than we expected. Sometimes we even become addicted to the lies we tell ourselves, but in recovery from drugs and alcohol the truth will always set you free. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135