21 Sep Sick as Our Secrets | The Fuel of Addiction
Have you ever wondered why addicts and alcoholics continue to lie and keep secrets, even when the lie has little gravity? Even sober, I remember a night when I came home and I was asked where I was. Instead of telling the truth that I was hanging out with another sober friend, I lied. I said I was at the store. There was no consequence to avoid, and really no reason to lie. But I did. Why?
Simple truth: Lying is a symptom of addiction.
My lying started long before I picked up a drug or a drink. I lived a dual life growing up–kind of like a chameleon changing my thoughts, words, and actions depending on what crown I was around. When I was with family, I played one role to meet their perceived expectations. When I was with friends, I played another role to be liked. When I was dating, I played a role to portray I was a suitable candidate. The list goes on. This incongruence and role identity created a deep loss of self deepening my shame, feelings of inadequacy, and strengthened my ego needed for survival.
Who was I? I had no clue.
To make things worse, when I started using my secrets multiplied by the hour.
As I became more and more dependent, I was as fake as the day is long. My ego grew.
In recovery, I learned that we are as sick as our secrets. One common mindset of many addicts is that they can keep their addiction separate from other aspects of their life. This starts the snowball of new secrets, mounting on top of old secrets. This way of thinking is driven by the mental hold addiction has over addicts. Anyone who has ever suffered from chronic substance abuse can tell you, this is how addiction works. Addiction is a mental disease that will seep into every aspect of your life, no matter what anyone tells you.
It affects family relationships
Each day, when I meet with people suffering from addiction, I learn that their family life is falling apart. Ideally, family comes first. Not with addiction. Family, and everything else, comes after the need to feed the disease. Addiction will carry over from generation to generation, corrupting your roots with poisonous secrets and lies. Many of my clients are the products of unhealthy parents. It’s just a fact. When family members get into recovery through books, Al Anon, and family therapy, the relationships can be healed and become more meaningful.
It makes it harder to get and keep a job
I lost over seven jobs due to my addiction. When your mind is entirely dependent on substance abuse, it makes it incredibly challenging to function as a normal adult is able to. Being able to properly perform the duties of your job can often be an uphill battle for an addict, as they are not always operating at full capacity. A 2001 study by the University of Miami showed that chronic substance abuse led to less employment opportunities for both men and women. Sometimes the potential loss of a job can motivate one to get help. Functional addicts frequently find it harder to seek out help, because they don’t find themselves in this desperate situation, as often. Either way, signs of struggles at work can be the smoke pointing to fire. Once an addict gets into recovery, they can often become the most valuable employees on the team because of their unique gifts and talents. Addicts are the most talented, likable people I know.
It changes your friend circle
We, as individuals, often like to hang out with people who share our same interests. This is especially true when it comes to the world of substance abuse. Addiction has the potential to become such a powerful, manipulative force in your life. The friends that an addict has before addiction are likely to be replaced by other individuals who fuel their current habits. This creates a self-destructive and continuous cycle that makes it much harder for an addict to change their behavior. In recovery, I was told to “stick with the winners”, ya know, those people who were actually taking the action to stay sober. Once an addict enters recovery, and surrounds himself/herself with other “winners”, recovery is probable. Kevin Hall, author of Aspire, says “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”
In short, there are real solutions to addiction. There is a movement of recovery happening in this day and age and we are gaining force every day to fight addiction and alcoholism. The key is for you to do your part and take action for you. For more information about how to help someone recover, register for your chance to get a free copy of my soon-to-be released book Unhooked: How to Influence an Addict and Get Results! by clicking this link.
For information about treatment, visit my other site idahoaddictioncenters.com
Or call me at Renaissance Ranch 208-286-4274