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Why Do Alcoholics Lie?


why do alcoholics lie?

For a person with severe alcohol use disorder, lying becomes a way of life because consuming alcohol has become the most important part of their lives. To better understand how that happens, let’s look at what alcohol use disorder is and what it does.

Alcohol use disorder is the medical diagnosis for the colloquial term alcoholism. It’s a progressive brain disease in which a person keeps abusing alcohol even though consuming alcohol causes negative consequences.  Alcoholism causes distinct and lasting changes in the way neurochemicals work in the brain. It also makes persistent changes in the structure of the brain. [1]

If you have a loved one who struggles with alcoholism, you most likely feel confused, resentful, and hurt by their lying. You may question why someone would destroy their life, health, and relationships only to get drunk.

To understand why alcoholics lie frequently, it is vital to understand the broken logic of addiction and the distorted thought processes behind the alcohol abuse that cultivates dishonesty. To do this, we need to look at why and how people become alcoholics in the first place.

How Do People Become Alcoholics?

When a person starts drinking, alcohol serves a purpose for them. Maybe they drink to relax, be more sociable, to enjoy themselves. A person may drink to unwind or relieve stress, soothe anxiety, or “take the edge off.”  Some people drink because they don’t have healthy coping skills and don’t know how to manage stress effectively. Others drink to suppress extreme emotional pain, while for others, drinking is socially expected and an important part of their culture.

Because of a complex and not perfectly understood interaction between a person’s psychological, genetic, and social contexts, for some heavy drinkers, the regular influx of alcohol causes profound changes in the way their brain works. Living circuits made of nerves become disordered and essential brain chemicals stop working correctly. These harmful changes then persist.

In an alcoholic’s impaired mind, alcohol becomes essential for survival. Quitting is physically painful because of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and it often seems less painful to keep drinking.

Consequently, an alcoholic’s life begins to orbit around getting alcohol, drinking it, and protecting their access to it.

Some of the most common reasons alcoholics lie include:

  • to avoid the shame associated with alcoholism
  • to protect their addiction
  • to avoid confrontation
  • to avoid the consequences of their drinking
  • to make themselves feel better

Alcoholics Lie Because Alcoholism is Stigmatized

Many individuals who suffer from alcoholism are ashamed to admit that they have a drinking problem. Our society stigmatizes mental illness, alcohol abuse, and addiction and there are a lot of negative connotations associated with it. [2] Therefore alcoholics will attempt to hide or disguise their disease to avoid judgment. Your loved one may lie to mask shame or to avoid ridicule from their peers Furthermore, stigma causes millions of alcoholics to shun rehab.

Lying to Protect Their Addiction

As alcoholism progresses, drinking moves from the periphery of a person’s life to the center. Once it’s firmly entrenched as a person’s reason for living, a person will lie in order to keep drinking. That might mean lying about how they’re spending money, or their whereabouts, lying about who they’re associating with, and so forth.

Lying to Maintain the Delusion that Their Drinking is Under Control

Substance abuse alters reality for someone with alcohol use disorder. Oftentimes, these individuals experience grandiose and victimizing delusions, and many alcoholics construct a reality in which their excessive drinking is not a problem. That requires lying to themselves and others, such as the lie that they can quit drinking whenever they want, or that they only drink on weekends, and so forth.

Lying to Avoid Confrontation and Alcohol Rehab

Alcoholics lie to avoid being confronted with the facts about their situation. Many people with alcohol use disorder didn’t deal well with confrontation before they became alcoholics, and they cope with it even more poorly once the addiction has taken root.

If someone you love is an alcoholic, you may have attempted to confront their drinking problem. Most likely this individual has lied or brushed off the conversation to dodge any discussion surrounding their excessive drinking.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

Those who struggle with alcoholism often lie, but the lies should not distract from the problem at hand – active alcoholism. Underlying issues that often contribute to addiction must be exposed, acknowledged, and treated. Do not allow the manipulation and lies of your alcoholic loved one to keep you from seeking an alcohol rehab program that could save their life. Whether or not your loved one lies to you about their alcoholism, it is worthwhile for you to confront them and offer them the gift of substance abuse treatment and ultimately recovery.

If you’re concerned you or a loved one may have a drinking problem,  Agape Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale is available to help. Please give us a call—we are ready to help around the clock, every day of the week. Our admissions counselors will work with you in determining your treatment options, how to cover the cost of treatment and set up a date and a time for intake.


  1. Alcohol use disorder
  2. Reducing the Stigma of Addiction

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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