SOURCE: Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC
Angel came into counseling knowing that something was wrong but not knowing what it was. After being married for seven years, he noticed his wife became more secretive and distant. Money from their savings account was missing and unaccounted for, his wife would disappear frustrated and return weirdly happy, and she seemed to get angry very easily over insignificant matters.
At first, he thought she was having an affair. But after looking at her phone and locations, he ruled that out. So he sought the advice of a therapist. Oftentimes when a spouse is hiding the severity of an addiction, the only evidence of it is the way they talk about it. An addict lies to themselves and others in order to justify continuing in their addiction. Here are some examples of addict speak.
- “It’s not that bad.” At the first sign of confrontation, an addict will minimize their addiction by claiming it isn’t that bad. They might even say they were far worse in the past.
- “I only use it occasionally.” Instead of flatly denying the abuse of a substance, an addict will admit to far less than what they are doing. The rule of thumb is that an addict admits to less than half of their actual usage.
- “I can’t deal with my problems without it.” The irony of this statement is that the addict begins to look for reasons to use their drug of choice. They might even create unnecessary problems to support it.
- “I can stop whenever I want to.” To keep from thinking they are addicted, an addict will deceive themselves into believing that they can stop at any time. They might even go for a short period of time to prove it but it is only temporary.
- “I’m not like … he/she is worse.” By comparing themselves to others, the addict can minimize the effects of the addiction while highlighting the severity of another person.
- “I’m different than …” Again, the addict picks another addict that is strongly disliked and says they are not like them. This comparison might even be accurate but it doesn’t diminish the reality of the addiction.
- “Everyone else does it.” This is a larger comparison where the addict claims that everyone they know does the exact same thing and therefore, they can’t have an addiction. It is a type of group think.
- “This is my thing, not yours.” Addicts tend to become weirdly possessive of their drug of choice. It is an affair of sorts where they are uniquely connected to the substance.
- “Life without it is boring.” This statement is further evidence of a substance affair. The addict sees life a dull and meaningless without the use of the substance.
- “I just like how it feels.” True addicts develop a personal relationship with their substance and assign properties to it as if it was a human. The substance can generate feelings within the addict.
- “I can’t be social without it.”A common belief is that the addict is unable to engage in society or with family and friends without the use of the substance. The more they use, the worse this becomes.
- “If everyone is, I have to too.”The addict will claim that everyone else does it and therefore they have to too as if there were no other options. This is especially true in work environments where substance usage is encouraged.
- “I need it to be creative.”This lie actually gives the substance credit for the addict’s creativity instead of the person doing the task.
- “I need it to relax.” Instead of dealing with stress and anxiety, the addict covers it up with their substance usage. But the problem that brought on the stress still remains after the substance wears off.
- “You are trying to take away my fun.” As soon as the addict receives some resistant from others for using, they resort to believing that everyone is trying to keep them from enjoying life.
- “It makes me a better person.” To justify their usage, addicts will say that without the substance they are more angry, frustrated, anxious, depressed, and/or bitter.
- “It hasn’t changed me.” The contrast to the previous statement is that the substance doesn’t have any effect on the abuser. In reality, the worse the addiction, the more dramatic the personality changes.
- “I’m not hurting you.” After being confronted, an addict will minimize the effects of their addiction by claiming that they are not doing any harm to others.
- “I’m still working, so it’s not that ” To prove they are not addicted, an addict will use their ability to continue with work as justification. Many addicts are functioning addicts meaning that they are able to function during the day.
- “The kids don’t know, so it’s okay.” Another common lie is the belief that kids won’t notice the addiction. Unfortunately, many kids are sneaks and very observant.
After reviewing this list, Angel realized that his wife frequently said all of these statements. So he staged an intervention to confront his wife and get her the help she needed for recovery.