Hi, Kate Duffy here at Tipping Point where we’re doing things differently. We are lifting the curtain as recovering alcoholics ourselves.
We’re sharing tips with you so that you can understand what is addiction vs what is your loved one.
They’re not the same thing.
I’m really wanting you to learn how to translate addiction, so think of me as the interpreter teaching you how. I want you to hear when the disease is talking versus your loved one.
So something that I heard over and over and over again and actually was a big catalyst in me deciding to start this company was hearing families in their pain and frustration.
“She’s such a liar.”
“No, you don’t understand. He’s really manipulative.”
What I want to say back to that, and I do all the time when I’m talking with clients is this:
I was a liar.
I was manipulative.
We all are.
Imagine saying, “My mother has Alzheimer’s. She’s just so forgetful.” That sounds a little funny to hear because it is expected that someone with Alzheimer’s is forgetful, yet we don’t stay focused on that because doctors teach us this is what happens with Alzheimer’s. It’s expected.
I’m teaching you this is what happens with addiction, partly because I want you to let go of that idea you have about how She’s such a liar. He’s so manipulative. But also, I want you to know that the illness manipulates and the illness lies.
It hurts me to see families stuck on not being able to let that go. It hurts because I know that it’s no way to live. It also is not useful to you or your loved one for you to stay in a mindset of frustration.
Today, we’re covering the top lies that we see/hear from addicts, and I’m wanting you to approach this as though you are learning another language. I want you to learn these tips, these lies, so that you can become proficient in understanding when the addiction is talking and what it is actually saying. And I’m going to tell you what I think you should do when you respond to the addiction versus your loved one.
We have a tip sheet of which I think has 20 lies listed. I’ve asked hundreds of alcoholics and addicts in recovery to help me with getting down these top lies. I’m not telling you that these lies are 100% of the time, but I’m confident 99 plus percent of the time, these are lies and will come up.
The first one is: I’m fine.
I remember saying this drunk and trying to get the words out, “I’m fine,” and my eyelids slamming shut immediately after getting those two words out.
My kids were teenagers at the time. I wish now someone would have told them, “She’s not fine. She has mental health challenges that she’s self-medicating with alcohol. You’re not crazy. She’s not fine. And we’re going to help her.”
So when you hear I’m fine, rather than focusing on that it’s a lie, I want you to remember that’s the monster of addiction that is talking through your person’s mouth — through your person’s words. They are not fine.
Another one I said was: Those aren’t mine.
This was in reference to bottles that were found. “Oh, those are old,” or “those aren’t mine.”
How insane does that make you feel when you see the bottles? You know they weren’t there last week and yet your loved one is saying those aren’t mine.
The insane part is really the families thinking that the addict is going to say “Oh, you’re right, those are current. And I’m struggling.” But that’s what we’re wishing for when we approach an alcoholic and we say,”look what I found.”
What we’re really hoping for is they’re going to say, “Oh my God, you’re right. I’m so sorry. I’m really struggling.”
Now maybe 1% of the time that’s going to happen. But I’m going to ask you to stop expecting from them what you’re not going to get because it’s going to make you crazy to keep expecting it and it’s not helping you or them.
Another lie is: It wasn’t my fault.
We don’t take responsibility. We don’t take ownership when we’re struggling with addiction. It’s a symptom. It is a symptom of drug or alcohol addiction. We don’t take responsibility so don’t expect us to take responsibility.
What this really means: don’t do things for us to help us because then you’re really just saying it’s okay that you’re not taking responsibility. I’ve got you covered. Don’t cover addiction. Don’t protect the addiction.
Lie Number four: I’m not avoiding you, I’m just busy.
The truth is: I am avoiding you because I’m stuck in my addiction. I don’t want to admit it, I don’t want to take responsibility for it. I don’t want to hear you calling me out.
If I’m frequently telling you I’m busy, I’m really just not making time for anything, including myself, because of my addictions taking over.
Lie: I don’t need treatment.
And there’s always a million reasons why I don’t need treatment:
I did it before (usually multiple times at this point).
They’re no good.
I know other people that have gone there.
It doesn’t work. It didn’t work.
For me, it won’t work.
The truth is all alcoholics and addicts need treatment for the underlying causes. The root causes of drug or alcohol addiction are an inside problem and it needs treatment.
But your job is not to convince them that they need treatment. We do that — we, as in peers and treatment centers, and interventionists. We will convince them that they need treatment. That’s what we’re best at. Don’t try to convince them they need treatment.
It’s a lie that they don’t need treatment. It’s not true. I want you to know that because I want you to not get caught in that argument. I don’t want you to think you’re going to convince someone with a thinking disorder that they need to think their way through this.
Lie Number Six: AA doesn’t work / I don’t believe in the God stuff.
Well, there is no need for God in AA, AA does work, and AA has worked for years.
Most times people say I don’t want AA because AA is a program of abstinence and you’re talking with someone who doesn’t want to be abstinent. You’re talking with someone whose disease is fighting with them on the inside, to stay present and to drink, and to earn their right to drink socially.
The inside journey of coming to awareness is hard.
I won’t go to AA is often a mistruth. The real meaning underneath is:
I’m not ready to get sober.
I don’t know how I’ll live my life being sober.
I don’t know those people.
I feel insecure.
I’m not sure if I fit in.
I’m not sure if they’re like me.
Those are usually what it means. I’m sharing this with you not because I want you to go convince your loved one, but rather I want you first to be convinced that these are lies and this is how addiction presents.
Number 7 Lie: It’s different this time / I can do it this time / This time is different.
Often what that is doing is masking. It’s more denial, more rationalizing, more minimizing.
“I’ve got this covered.”
Typically we don’t have it covered. The majority of the time we need someone else — we need a professional. We don’t have this covered, but you don’t need to get caught in that argument with us.
In your head, you can say to yourself, yes, it sure is different this time because I’m learning about the disease. And I’m not going to buy the BS anymore. And I’m going to set healthy boundaries. You don’t have to say that out loud yet. But it is different this time. Don’t believe that it’s not.
Another Lie: I NEED blank from you in order to recover.
I need a car
I need money
I need something from you in order to recover. I want you to be responsible for my recovery.
This is a really tough one, especially when it’s a young person who’s maybe in a family without addiction being present, without the mental health challenges.
Sometimes people do buy their loved ones a car for graduation present. Or sometimes they loan money to family members. But with addiction, what you’ve got to remember is we don’t need anything except treatment and other people in recovery to help us get well.
We don’t want to believe that and we aren’t going to believe that from you, our family, but we don’t need a job. We don’t need anything until we get better.
It’s our family thinking that we need those things in order to get us better. No, we need to get better first.
You’re right that we need purpose and we need to drive in order to get to where we need to go, but we have to work toward those things from the inside out.
You can’t give someone self-esteem.
You can’t give someone purpose in life.
Instead, you give them the opportunity to practice finding their purpose, to practice feeling well enough to climb our way out.
It’s in early recovery that we get all those things back, and being given those things doesn’t allow us the opportunity to work toward them.
It’s very common for someone to think you need to give them something in order for them to do the thing. No. You just need them to value their life. You just need them to get better.
So which of these lies have you told if you’re the person in recovery? Which of these lies are you being told if you’re a family member and listening to this video? We’d love to hear from you!