“No One Will Know If I Eat This Cake” (The 12 Lies of Relapse)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re recovering from an addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, pornography, shopping, or power—temptation will come knocking. Unfortunately, it won’t be dressed in red or have a pointy tail. That would make it too easy.

Instead, for most of us, the invitation to indulge our compulsions sounds like the voice of reason in our head. Next time you feel tempted, see if you can’t recognize one of these twisted lies in your thinking—and combat it with the truth instead:

1. The Lie of Deprivation: “I’m missing out on something good.” The Truth: I am not being deprived but spared, since my substance or activity of choice has become like poison to me.

2. The Lie of Identity: “I’m a sex (or relationship) addict, so of course I sleep around.” The Truth: My addiction doesn’t define who I am, but only something I used to do.

3. The Lie of Entitlement: “After the day I’ve had, I deserve this!” The Truth: My addiction is not a reward, but a form of self-punishment, since it leads to misery and regret.

4. The Lie of Secrecy: “No one will know if I eat this entire cake.” The truth: I will know it, and so will God, and we’re who matter most.

5. The Lie of Minimization: “If I only take a bite/sip/look, it’s no big deal.” The Truth: What matters isn’t the amount; if I try to cheat and violate my conscience, I’m relapsing.

6. The Lie of Control. “If I binge today, I can always repent and get right back on the wagon tomorrow.” The Truth: Every time I fall off the wagon, it gets harder to climb back on–and stay on.

7. The Lie of Self-pity: “No one cares how hard I’m trying to change, so why bother?” The Truth: I’m not in recovery to impress or gain kudos but to live true to God and myself.

8. The Lie of Inevitability: “I’m going to relapse sooner or later. Might as well be now.” The Truth: Relapse does not have to be part of my recovery story. I never have to act on that compulsion again.

9. The Lie of Change: “Look how far I’ve come—I think I can handle a single drink now!” The Truth: No matter how much I have grown, I am never cured of my addiction.

10. The Lie of Revenge: “Fine! Take that! I’ll just get high and you’ll be sorry.” The Truth: If I use my addiction as a weapon, I’m the one who will be hurt first—and probably the most.

11. The Lie of Unworthiness: “I don’t deserve to be sober, happy, and free in recovery. I’ve hurt too many people.” The Truth: Recovery is a gift of grace that no one earns but anyone may receive. Plus, staying sober is how I make a living amends.

12. The Lie of Crisis: “This is just too much for me to handle—everyone will understand if I turn to my addiction now.” The Truth: When life hurts, I don’t have to reach for my drug of choice. With the comfort and support of my community, my recovery program, and my God, I can handle this!

One of my favorite sayings in recovery goes to this last point: “There is no problem that drinking (or fill in the blank) can’t make worse.”

I should tell you that this list is not the slightest bit scientific. These particular lies occurred to me because I’ve met them all roaming the dangerous, dark streets of my mind. When I relapsed after six months, it was 1, 8, and 10 that ganged up and took me down.

How about you? Are there any lies here that you have felt especially vulnerable to? Lies or truths that you would add? 

Author: Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

55 thoughts on ““No One Will Know If I Eat This Cake” (The 12 Lies of Relapse)”

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  4. Hi, First Time Blogging Ever. God surely has directed me to your Blog today, Heather. I needed to see all the excuses listed right in front of me, along with the response from Chaz. You are both bright young people who have just helped a Mom of two Adult children get serious about her overeating…..because now I realize that God thinks I’m worth it. One request Heather: Can you clarify #9 for me, as it seems to contradict #2. Sorry, some things are just a little harder to understand after a couple head injuries. 🙂 Blessings ~


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  9. Thanks for this . . . after today, I fell into the “after the day I had . . .” mentality a bit but without a relapse . . . this list is a great reminder!


  10. Nothing I would add but I would stress the relevance and importance of #4 in my journey of recovery (4. The Lie of Secrecy: “No one will know if I eat this entire cake.” The truth: I will know it, and so will God, and we’re who matter most).

    For me, a turning point came when I finally saw the value of myself. Until I did, this lie was a valid excuse to relapse. Until I discovered and believed I was worthy of the square foot of earth I stood on at any given moment, I did not see myself worthy of recovery.

    I came to believe that God had a purpose for me and loves me in the moment exactly who I am at this moment, flawed and all. This realization of self-value gave me the constant reason to stay sober. God and I finally had value in my own eyes. Value sufficient to be worthy of sobriety.

    It almost sounds contrary and selfiship…. sobering up for your self first. But I havent seen how it works any other way. If we link our sobriety to any outside factor, such as a relationship, job, asset, whatever, we remain in danger. We may lose or become disappointed or hurt by that outside factor. We will never lose ourselves. We are with us 24/7. So as long as we see value in us, us is worth staying sober for and this excuse becomes invalid.

    Great list!



    1. Hi There Young Man, Just posted a comment mentioning you. Thank You for your post! I pray you are keeping up the good work. Blessings To you in 2016…because you are worth it!


  11. What an amazingly great list! The ones that have really applied to me are 1,3,4,5,6,9,& 12. Number 9 has been a huge one, this week even. I had lost 53 pounds with only 22 left to go before I got to my goal. So, that feeling of “look how far I’ve come” started to creep in. I thought “I’ve got this, I can have a little.” Well, after eating like that for several weeks, now, instead of having only 22 pounds left to go, I have 30 pounds to lose. Huh…! Like several other people said in comments, I will be printing that list too! You blog is just so important Heather. Thanks for all the time you put into speaking to all of us!! Love you.


  12. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. #1-12 = OUCH. And so very true. And so very me. Thank God that God is so very God to redeem us from the pits we keep hurling ourselves into.


    1. Mine is, “ICE CREAM!!” by, the way, I have posted lots of times but they never showed up before. I didn’t realize I had to sign into my word press account. But now that I have figured it out, you will be seeing more of me as I love your blog and can’t wait to read your book.

      God’s Peace, Nancy


    1. 6. Yikes. I wasn’t warned about this myself–and it stunned me to learn after my relapse that it was way harder to get sober again than it would have been to stay sober. I thought it was like a merry-go-round and it didn’t matter if you got off and back on–it would be the same. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a person try that–think they’ll get back on easy as the first or second time–and end up in a long-term chronic relapse situation. It’s heartbreaking to watch. It always helps me to remember that a slip would only make things ten times harder. It’s like each one plants a seed of doubt in our minds and the addict in us uses that seed to plant more. Pretty soon we’re a flower bed full of volunteers ready to jeer at us that of course this time will be no different… Thanks for commenting!


  13. Wow Heather this is great! I can’t tell you how many times some of these lies got me back on the wrong path.. I definitely need to print this and keep it close. Thank you for all you do! ❤


  14. Heather, I am still hoping your monkey mind will come visit. When I come here I start singing….today its “have I told you lately that I love you…and your blog.” Powerful words friend packing a huge punch of grace-dipped love. Dripping.


  15. #3 is me all the way. In fact, I was just getting ready to blog about entitlement. Yeah I was always the “You drink to if you had the job/husband/childhood/father/mother/unfashionable backpack that I have” kind of guy or I operated heavily on the rewards system. Even sober I think I deserve the cake or porn or extra piece of pizza or whatever because damnit I’m sober and I’ve earned it. Insert sigh and eye roll here. Clearly I still have a long way to go and thank God for that. And for you and your blog!


  16. 1, 2, 8, & 9. Especially 9, lately.

    This post is beautifully timed, because temptation started presenting itself again a few days ago. Thankfully, I recognized it, but I had *not* recognized #9’s lie yet. Time to double up the armor.


  17. Excellent and comprehensive list! May I copy and use when I am talking about relapse with my clients? Sometimes it is so refreshing to work in some different language than the rote over-used recovery lingo

    I am, and always will be, subject to every one of these lies laying down the bridge of deception. I cross over that bridge, I’m likely to a) perish b) find myself under a state commitment in a psyche ward or c) jail time. Thems’ the facts, just as the BB so eloquently states.

    I, with a history of relapses, have a resourceful bag of tools from which I can use when I , or those close to me, recognize the danger signs of “pre-relapse”. In other words, I have learned SO MUCH from my relapses and what MY triggers are, how to avoid and/or counter-attack them.

    That said, I’m cautious of complacency and the notion that “I got this thing”, because I don’t. Its a day-by-day journey that requires a lot of self-awareness and self-care,..


    1. I’m so glad you like this list and plan to share it. To be honest, I wish I’d had it when I was newly sober. It took a long time to spot a lot of these lies. I’m sucker for rationalizing. The best part of all, though, is that no matter how often you relapse, the rooms of recovery are always waiting. Thanks for all you do for addicts. Heather


      1. Absolutely I will credit your blog!! I actually keep a list of credible blogs to give to clients who I am confident will not rely solely on internet recovery. My sister is an LADC in CO as well and I gave her your blog address too.

        I have, most likely, a dumb question. I see my av photo is missing and somehow I have “romeo 1107” as a name. Which I’m not sure how I did that as romeo 1107 is an old password? Curious to know how I edit those items?


  18. Food is my drug of choice… #3 often rears its ugly head now and again. Sometimes I still bite (literally) because in the moment I convince myself I am rewarding myself. Ah such is the ride through delusion.


  19. What a great list! It needs to be shared. Thanks, Heather. I know you sought sobriety for yourself (that’s the only way it works), but your insight that you share so humbly and transparently helps others in their own journey. I admire you.


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