Why Do Alcoholics Lie?

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If you have a loved one who’s struggling with alcohol addiction, it can be overwhelming. It’s particularly frustrating when family members or loved ones lie about their alcohol use. You may want to help the person but struggle to do so because they aren’t open with you about their alcohol consumption.

However, it’s common for someone with an alcohol problem to be evasive. With society’s stigmatization surrounding alcoholics, it’s not surprising that they’re often hesitant to admit they’re addicted.

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If someone you love hasn’t been honest about their alcohol use, it can be helpful to understand the reasons behind their actions. This can help you to cope better with the emotional turmoil that can come with dealing with alcoholism and lying.

Defining Alcoholism

You might be wondering if your loved one has a problem with drinking. Maybe you’re not sure exactly what constitutes being an alcoholic. An alcohol use disorder is a chronic condition that’s characterized by an inability to control alcohol use despite negative social, health, or emotional consequences.

Risks factors for a person developing an alcohol use disorder include heavy drinking and binge-drinking. You may be wondering what constitutes heavy drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as follows:

  • For men, more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week.
  • For women, more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.

The definition of binge-drinking is having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (or higher).

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Understanding Why Alcoholics Lie

It’s human nature for a person to avoid uncomfortable situations, especially if they feel ashamed of their behavior. No one likes to feel as if they’ve failed. Suppose you or your loved one is lying about alcohol use. In that case, experiencing various unpleasant emotions could be a common reaction.

For many years, alcoholics and drug addicts were depicted in a certain light by society. They were considered too weak to stop drinking or defective in some way. However, we’ve now learned that alcoholism is a disease that requires treatment.

Research has discovered that, over time, alcohol use results in long-term chemical changes in the brain and is responsible for alcohol dependence, among other harmful effects. Yet the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction is not easy to remove. Those who are caught in the downward spiral of alcoholism may feel the residual shame of their issue and strive to hide it from others.

Even if you’re not actively shaming your loved one for drinking, it’s not uncommon for an alcoholic to lie about drinking. Below are some of the possible reasons for doing so.


One of the first reactions your loved one may have when confronted with an alcohol addiction problem is to deny it. In fact, they may also be denying it to themselves. It’s difficult to face yourself in the mirror if you feel hopeless.

Another aspect of denial is to say that it’s not that big of a problem. In other words, your loved one may say they can control their drinking or are able to quit at any time.

To Avoid Shame or Guilt

Abusing alcohol can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. Your loved one would probably rather avoid feeling this way, as these are very strong emotions. It’s common to feel a sense of helplessness when struggling with alcohol addiction. However, the inability to stop using alcohol also leads to feeling shame.

When feeling shame and guilt, your loved one may engage in behavior to numb their feelings. They don’t want to admit defeat, so they cover up their drinking with lies.

To Protect Relationships

If you and your loved one start arguing when the topic of drinking comes up, it will be a source of distress for both of you. Your loved one may lie about drinking to protect their relationship with you or other loved ones. They want to avoid conflict and keep things running smoothly in their relationships. Lying about their drinking may also make them think they will avoid people’s disappointment.

Consequences of Lying

Every behavior has a consequence. Lying is no different, and one lie can often lead to another. As the problems accumulate when drinking is involved, your loved one may come face to face with some of these consequences. We’ve listed some of these below.


If you’re the person who is stuck in the cycle of alcoholism and lying to cover it up, you may understand how trust can become broken over time. Deception tends to have a snowball effect, as one lie leads to another and destroys trust.

Broken or Strained Relationships

When the person using alcohol does things they regret, it interferes with healthy connections. When there’s deception and a lack of trust between people, it won’t be long before the relationship starts to fall apart. Consequently, alcoholism may lead to strained or broken relationships.

Continued Drinking

Obviously, if you or your loved one is continuing to lie about drinking, chances are you or they will continue drinking. The more things remain hidden as the deception continues, the easier it is for the alcoholic to continue drinking.

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Strategies for Coping

It can be challenging to cope with life when your loved one is stuck on the path of alcohol addiction. If you’re a person with an alcohol use disorder, you’re suffering too. There are several strategies that people can use to cope with the effects of alcoholism and lying. These include:

  • Seeking professional help in a rehab detox facility that offers evidence-based treatment programs.
  • Practicing honestly assessing your situation.
  • Attending family support groups and group therapy sessions.
  • Taking responsibility for your actions.

Our detox rehab center has evidence-based programs to address your needs. Reach out to our alcohol detox facility in Laguna Beach to begin the journey to a new beginning. Contact our top-rated California detox facility today to get the help you need


Not all alcoholics lie, but it is a common behavior among those who struggle with addiction.
Lying is not a symptom of alcoholism itself, but it can be a behavior that develops as a result of alcoholism.


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