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.