The Alcoholic’s War on Truth

by The Discovering Alcoholic on November 7, 2009

The Alcoholic's War on Truth at The Discovering Alcoholic, original pic by Bearlyworking at Flickr under Creative Commons License

In yesterday’s post Recovery Requires Brutal Honesty I mentioned finding an excellent article on dishonesty being a prerequisite of alcoholism. It’s written by Floyd P. Garrett, M.D., and it’s an excellent summary of the progression the alcoholic process of lying to oneself, then in relationships, and culminating in a complete break from reality.

The first casualty of addiction, like that of war, is the truth. At first the addict merely denies the truth to himself. But as the addiction, like a malignant tumor, slowly and progressively expands and invades more and more of the healthy tissue of his life and mind and world, the addict begins to deny the truth to others as well as to himself. He becomes a practiced and profligate liar in all matters related to the defense and preservation of his addiction, even though prior to the onset of his addictive illness, and often still in areas as yet untouched by the addiction, he may be scrupulously honest…(snip)

First the addict lies to himself about his addiction, then he begins to lie to others. Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth are necessary parts of the addictive process. They precede the main body of the addiction like military sappers and shock troops, mapping and clearing the way for its advance and protecting it from hostile counterattacks… (snip)

As the addictive process claims more of the addict’s self and lifeworld his addiction becomes his primary relationship to the detriment of all others. Strange as it sounds to speak of a bottle of alcohol, a drug, a gambling obsession or any other such compulsive behavior as a love object, this is precisely what goes on in advanced addictive illness. This means that in addiction there is always infidelity to other love objects such as spouses and other family – for the very existence of addiction signifies an allegiance that is at best divided and at worst -and more commonly- betrayed… (snip)

At this stage of addiction the addict is in fact functionally insane.

You can find the full article posted on his practice’s website (Behavioral Medicine Associates), and while I can not vouch for their services I will suggest that the reading resources they have online are well worth the time to explore.

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