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Can you trust a recovered drug addict?
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Recovered drug addicts only lied to support their addiction.

Recovered addicts no longer need to lie for the sake of their addiction and can be trusted like anyone else.


Drug addicts are not known for being trustworthy because they will say anything in order keep getting high. The question is whether this changes when they get sober. There is debate about whether their lying is just part of their addiction or pathological and permanent. Figuring out if and when to trust a recovered addict can help us best support them without being conned or used by them.

The Argument

Many addiction specialists believe that addiction and lying go hand in hand. However, they think the lying is part of the addict’s addiction, whether it be so that person can get more drugs or hide their addiction. However, this need to lie goes away once an addict gets sober [1]. Unless you encounter an inherently dishonest person, it’s safe to assume that an addict’s propensity for lying is confined to the period they spend in active addiction. It’s common knowledge that people in addiction can behave like Jekyll & Hyde. Who people are in addiction is not who they actually are – the disease changes them for the worse [2]. Addicts lie, cheat, and steal to support their addiction because they are slaves to it. Once that addiction is gone, they return to whoever they were before addiction – often an honest and decent person. Furthermore, many addicts get sober using a 12-step program like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. These programs focus on “rigorous honesty” which means addicts who recover through these programs are most certainly trustworthy people again. This argument assumes that the addict in question’s true self does not include pathological lying, which is an issue separate from addiction that doesn’t affect all addicts. This argument also assumes that recovered addicts have a twofold recovery – one that involves sobriety and one that involves getting back to their true selves. Addicts in early recovery are still shedding their propensity to lie, but that eventually goes away. One can most certainly trust a recovered addict, but it’s less risky to trust one who has been sober a while.

Counter arguments

Inherently dishonest people are the ones most likely to become addicts because they have no qualms about lying to get what they want. Just because they stop using substances doesn’t mean they’ll stop lying – it just means they’ll lie about things other than drugs. It’s even hard to know when an addict is recovered because they could still be hiding and lying about their using. 12-step programs preach honesty, but that doesn’t mean the people in the program practice that [3]. Honesty is hard for addicts because it generally involves admitting their mistakes or crimes, and they are afraid and ashamed of that. This means we should be empathetic towards them, but distrustful too. It is erroneous to think that most addicts aren’t pathological liars. There is significant overlap between antisocial personality disorder (APD) and substance abuse. Part of APD is lying because people with APD don’t follow the moral and ethical rules that govern society [4]. A lot of addicts’ “true selves” comprise the symptoms that make up APD. Until a recovered addict recovers from their APD too, they cannot be trusted. (One can get sober and still live with APD.)



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 4 Jan 2021 at 14:26 UTC