Parent of an Addict Asks: When Does the Lying End?

Kelli, the mom at the blog Hearts Broken/Mom of a Drug Addict recently asked her readers:

“When does the lying stop? Should a parent try to detect all the lies?”

I agree with Barbara, the mom at the blog Recovery Happens, who commented:

“I think that would drive you nuts and cause more frustration than it’s worth.”

Here’s the way I see it.  Lies are like static on the radio.

Parents shouldn’t let the noise and distortion interfere with a laser focus on the task at hand.

The task at hand is helping your daughter or son identify and follow a long term, safe and sustainable path to recovery.

The central fact is that the person in question is opiate dependent.  The rest tends to be secondary.

This includes the issue that many parents find they obsess about:  Are they using or not?

Recovery includes periods of use and non-use.  The truth parent’s should care about most is whether or not their child is following a path that is likely to result in a safe and sustainable recovery.

When the focus is a sustainable path to a long range recovery, there is less of a need to lie about periods of use.

Sometimes people who are opiate dependent feel they have to conceal the truth a lot.  This can become habitual and automatic.  But they aren’t lying to everyone.  The lying is usually selective, and based on what feels like self preservation.

As a counselor, when I set conditions of safety for a client, I get open sharing of accurate information.

People lie about use because they don’t want to face the consequences of being honest.  Often these consequences are reactive and counter-productive to long term recovery.

Perhaps people are wise to want to avoid them.

The lying ends, of course, when it is safe to tell the truth.

This happens when the person stops using and feels the safety of a stable recovery.

It can also happen when the person is continuing to use, or is using off and on as they seek to stabilize in recovery.  But this is most likely to happen if:

the person feels that they have a recovery plan that can work for them

those around them are supportive of the plan

those around them will give the plan time to work

those around them will support them in sticking to their plan during both periods of use and non-use

Maybe we shouldn’t be asking, “When does the lying end.”  A better question might be, “Why does the lying continue?”

If you don’t like the lies, your best option is to help create a recovery environment that supports your loved one in becoming more open with you.

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