If you’ve ever mingled in recovery circles, and AA in particular, you’ll be more than familiar with the view that addicts are dishonest, manipulative and sneaky. What’s your view? Here’s mine:
When it comes to active addiction – yes, absolutely. Or “obvs”, as Bambino would so eloquently put it. Of course we have to hustle our asses off to hide and maintain our addiction, which when we’re in active addiction is what mercilessly rules us and dictates our every move. With an addict who is in active addiction, the answer to questions such as “how much have you had?“, “when did you last use/drink?” or indeed “are you battling addiction?” will likely be lies. Obvs.
The problem I have, is that I just don’t believe these shitty traits are inherent or natural qualities in the person who is an addict. Recovering addicts tend to be the most open and honest people I know, as well as the hardest working and least manipulative. Rarely do I meet people – or know people – working harder at being straight arrows. To me, there is a huge difference and for that reason it really grates on me when people say “oh, but us addicts always lie“. Do we? I don’t. Nor do the vast majority of recovering addicts I know.
This was on my mind today off the back of a comment that was made at work. There was a difference of opinion as to whether someone had been promised something, and whether that person was right to feel short changed. Without any fact finding or even considering the circumstances, someone said:
“Come on – between [so-and-so] and an addict, I’m not going to believe the addict, am I?”
Whoa! That made my blood boil! The matter at hand had nothing to do with addiction, it was something else entirely, but the assumption was that an addict always lies about everything. Am I crazy or is this outrageous? Chin-on-the-floor moment for Yours Truly.
Yes, I was dishonest in how I hid how much I drank. Yes, I manipulated my entire life to fit around drinking. Yes, I was sneaky in how I controlled everything in order to ensure maximum drinking time and space. But am I a dishonest, manipulative and sneaky person PER SE? Hell no. I won’t even cross the fucking road unless there’s a little green man telling me I can do so. I’m the sort of person who holds her hands up when she’s fucked up and if I were to find money that doesn’t belong to me I’d make a concerted effort to take all steps to ensure they’d be returned to their owner. You’d catch me getting a tarantula for a pet before you catch me tell a lie. It’s not who I am, it’s not the real Anna and the Anna here today IS the real Anna. In recovery we recover who we truly are.
Personally, I believe I was a prime candidate for addiction for tonnes of reasons, but the two biggest are that 1) I’m a highly sensitive person, and 2) I carry unresolved emotional pain with me from my childhood. What I can tell you in no uncertain terms is that I didn’t turn out to be addict because I’m somehow inherently dishonest or any of that bullshit. Oh gosh, you can tell I’m angry about this, can’t you? I just believe that those crappy qualities spring from the slavery of addiction and not the person itself. If you take an extreme example of what addiction forces people to do, it’d be to think of someone who sells their body to fund their habit. For me it’s the same thing – not that this is who they are as a person or something they “just do”, but something they are forced to do because they are in active addiction.
Instead of further going into how I see it, let me instead get on to what I actually wanted: ask you guys. How do you see it? Personal views, gut instincts, perspectives or cold, hard facts if you have any of those lying around – hit me up! I’m so keen to know if I’ve really got the wrong end of the stick here, which is entirely possible but I want to learn and understand so please argue your point – even if I stubbornly argue mine, I am genuinely open to changing my mind. If you think I’m wrong, tell me! If you think I’m failing to see it from the right perspective, tell me! I’m so keen to hear your views on this.
Today I’m not going to drink.