Is Pathological Lying A Sign of Addiction?

by | Nov 11, 2020 | Addiction

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It can be confusing knowing how to deal with a pathological liar.  A white lie every now and then – sure, that’s understandable. But habitually being lied to can be a source of great pain and lead to relationship strain and/or breakups.

Is pathological lying a sign of addiction?

If you’ve ever had friends or loved ones that struggled with addiction, you’ve probably been the recipient of their lies from time to time.  It’s not uncommon for those struggling with addictive behaviors to lie to themselves and others about their drinking or drugging habits. In fact, addiction experts believe lying is actually goes hand in hand with addiction.

If you have a loved one that’s struggling with lying and/or addiction, it’s likely you have some concerns and questions.  This article will help you come to know more about pathological liar symptoms and addiction – and how you can content with either.

Why People Lie About Their Addiction

Those that struggle with addiction do tend to lie about various things.  Some do it consciously, while others have no idea that what they are saying are lies. They may totally believe that what they are saying is true.

Here are some common reasons people may lie about addiction:

  1. To Keep Their Addiction A Secret – Those struggling with addictive behaviors usually want to keep their addiction a secret. They think that if others knew the truth about them, they’d feel quite ashamed.  They may fear rejection, abandonment, or be faced with an ultimatum to stop the addiction.
  2. They Lie To Avoid Conflict – Many people struggling with addiction lie to loved ones because they don’t want to have conflict or confrontation. They know that if they admit to drinking, drugging, or engaging in some other addictive behavior, it could cause contrast. They may not want to or be able to cope with that confrontation in a healthy way.It’s not uncommon for them to have poor communication or conflict resolution skills. The thought of having to be confronted by a loved one due to addictive behavior can cause so much anxiety for them. Therefore, they lie over and over to try to avoid confrontation.
  3. They Lie Because They Are In Denial – Some people who habitually lie about their addictive behavior just don’t think they have a problem. They are still in denial.
    For example, Jon’s spouse may ask him how many beers he had the night before.  Jon, who happens to think he’s not the alcoholic she thinks he is, says he drank three beers.  However, he really drank a 12-pack, but he knows if he tells her that, she will continue thinking he has a drinking problem.
  4. Shame – Some people habitually lie because they are ashamed of themselves for having become addicted to something. Deep down, they feel shame.  They think that if they become vulnerable and tell the truth, that they will be looked down upon by loved ones and society.

Pathological Liar Symptoms

Pathological liar symptoms vary from person to person. Pathological lying is different than lying to avoid consequences.  When lying becomes pathological, people lie for no reason at all. They lie so often that they may not even realize they are doing it. Sometimes, habitual lying can be a sign of a mental health condition, such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.

The following are various characteristics of those who are pathological liars:

  • Being deceptive
  • Low self-worth
  • Narcissism
  • Extremely selfish
  • Controlling
  • Manipulative
  • Being aggressive
  • Jealousy
  • Compulsiveness
  • Anger or rage
  • Being abusive
  • Addictive behaviors

Keep in mind not every pathological liar displays all these symptoms.  They may display several or perhaps only one.

How To Cope With Pathological Lying

If you’re wondering how to deal with a pathological liar, there are things you can do to help you and the other person.  Of course, it will depend on the specific situation.  If you see habitual liar symptoms in your loved one, try the following tips to cope:

  • Try not to take it personal. Pathological lying can be an addictive behavior. They may not even realize this is what they are doing.
  • Have a heart-to-heart conversation. Sit down and have a loving chat with the person. Approach the topic in a gentle, compassionate way.  Let them know your concerns about their habitual lying.  If you’re concerned about an addiction to something else, such as alcohol or drugs, talk to them about that as well. Try not to react, but listen attentively and really hear what they are saying. They may not be ready to fess up to any truth at the moment. Accept this, but be sure to set boundaries for yourself if they’ve been crossing any.  They may come around in time. In the meantime, practice self-care.
  • Inquire about other symptoms. Sometimes pathological lying points to an underlying mental health condition. You may want to ask them if they have additional symptoms that they’ve been struggling with, such as intense anxiety, depression, mood swings, and more.
  • Offer support. If your loved one admits to having a problem with habitual lying or an addiction to something, ask them how you can best support them. They may just need you to listen and offer them safe space to share their feelings.  They may also need practical advice.  Simply ask them and then check in with yourself to see if the request is doable and appropriate for you. If they need extra support, you can suggest professional counseling.

If you’re loved one is caught up in pathological lying due to their addiction, Soul Surgery can help with intervention and treatment. We can address the addiction and the habitual lying. Reach out today, as we’d love to discuss the topic with you further.

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani
Dr. Ravi Chandiramani is a Naturopathic physician with over 15 years experience working with those struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Over those 15 years he has worked with over 7,000 patients. He is the founder of the Integrative Addiction Medicine (I-AM) model which combines evidence-based conventional addiction medicine with the nurturing and rebuilding modalities inherent to the practice of Naturopathic medicine.

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