Why do people who face alcohol addiction lie when they know it hurts their loved ones? Learn several main reasons why people who have alcohol addiction may lie.

If someone close to you, like a family member or significant other, develops an alcohol addiction, you may notice that they behave differently than they usually do. The signs of alcoholism and alcohol use disorder often include problematic physical and behavioral changes like avoidance, defensiveness, and lying.

Lying to loved ones is a common sign of alcohol addiction and substance use disorders involving other drugs, too. You might be aware of the lying, but you might be wondering why they’d lie, and be frustrated that they don’t seem to see that you want to help them.

In a society that stigmatizes alcohol abuse and addiction, people who struggle with alcoholism may try to hide or cover up their disease to avoid judgment, among other reasons. For many alcoholics, lying is a defense mechanism that maintains the disease of addiction, and ultimately, lying is a roadblock on the path to recovery.

Article at a Glance:

Several important points to remember about alcohol addiction and lying behaviors include:

  • When someone struggles with alcohol addiction, their family members may struggle to cope, too
  • People who struggle with alcoholism may lie to avoid their problems, escape reality and preserve their addiction, among other reasons
  • Whether or not your loved one with an alcohol addiction lies to you about it, it’s worthwhile to confront them
  • Finding treatment solutions is the healthiest option for someone who faces alcohol addiction

Why People Who Struggle With Alcoholism Lie

If you have a loved one who struggles with alcoholism, you may feel confused, angry and hurt by their lying. It does not make sense that someone would destroy their life, their health, and their relationships to get drunk.

To understand why people who struggle with alcoholism also lie frequently, it can be helpful for you to understand the logic of addiction or the thought process behind lying and alcohol abuse.

Several reasons why people who have alcohol use disorders often lie include:

Lying to Avoid Their Problems

People who struggle with alcohol addiction may never have learned the skills to cope with life’s problems and struggles. They may have found short-term relief in their drinking and, when you ask about their alcohol abuse, they may wonder why you are trying to keep them away from something that helps them.

You might say to your loved one, “I am just looking out for your best interests,” and the voice, or logic, of addiction, responds with, “Then why are you trying to take away the one thing that helps me cope?”

As a loved one, you can try to help them understand that drinking alcohol is not an effective coping mechanism.

Lying to Preserve Their Addiction

People with alcohol use disorder are usually numbing themselves from physical, mental or emotional pain. If they acknowledged and accepted that their addiction was causing pain for others, it would amplify the pain that they are trying to numb. Therefore, they must lie to themselves, believing that they are not hurting people close to them. In this way, lying preserves and prolongs addiction.

Lying to Construct a False Reality

Addiction and substances alter reality for someone with alcohol addiction. The reality of the situation is often too painful to face, so the person may construct a reality where their drinking habits are not a problem. They might think, “I can stop drinking at any point.” In reality, they might drink to the point of blacking out every night.

Lying to Avoid Confrontation

You may attempt to confront a loved one about their drinking problem, but be prepared for your friend or family member to lie or brush off their need for a conversation with you.

The confrontation would reveal an alcohol addiction and might make the person realize their need for treatment. The stress of confrontation can be overwhelming for someone with an addiction. Their normal coping mechanism is probably drinking, and drinking more would only escalate any confrontation about addiction.

Finding a Solution for Alcoholism

People who struggle with alcoholism may lie, but lies should not be a distraction from the problem at hand, the active alcohol addiction. The underlying issues that contribute to their addiction must be revealed and explored. Do not let lies prevent you, or your loved one, from finding treatment solutions and a path toward recovery.

Don’t look the other way when a loved one lies to you, but don’t be rude or get defensive either. Help your loved one see the consequences of their lies, and create a supportive environment where they feel comfortable telling you the truth. Additionally, you can call The Recovery Village to speak to a representative about alcohol rehab for your loved one and receive guidance in this difficult situation.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fact Sheets-Alcohol Use And Health – Alcohol”
2019. Accessed May 29, 2019.

Wray, Herbert. “The Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety.” Scientific American, 2012. Accessed June 2019.

Everyday Health. “9 Suggestions For Confronting An Alcoholic.” Last updated 2017. Accessed June 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.