Addicts are extremely fearful people. What do they fear? Just about everything.

They fear running out. They fear running low. They fear having to go places where they won’t have access to the drugs or alcohol they need, which leads to overwhelming fear of detox.

They fear others will find out how much they’re drinking or using and how low they’ve sunk to assure they won’t run out.

They fear getting caught in all the lies they tell and all the cheating they do.

They fear they’re weak and unlovable, deserving all the calamities that befall them. Eventually, when addiction enters its final stages, they may even fear waking up.

One of the most consistent fears I heard from others, which I also shared, was that they were fraudulent personalities who would be unmasked. Addicts know they live fundamentally dishonest lives. They have an over-riding desire to hide the central fact of their existence, their need for drugs, behind a facade of normalcy. And they know it even as they deny it, so they have to lie. I heard this stated with eloquent simplicity from an AA speaker who described the addicts’ code as, “Lie your ass off and hope for the best.” Sometimes it’s even the source of some pride, a feeling that you must be more clever than most to get away with all your shenanigans (ignoring that by late-stage addiction, your multiple deceits are transparent to most others). But this pride is mostly a drug-fueled brave veneer.

Addicts fear that while they’re pretending to be Dr. Jekyll they’re actually Mr. Hyde and everyone they know will discover that eventually. The knowledge of this fraud breeds enormous guilt and shame. Over time, this morphs into hopelessness. All too often it’s accompanied by acceptance of one’s ultimate fate, death, as a deserving one, which makes it a lot easier to give up on the day and take the first drink or drug to escape the pain of fraudulence.

I have heard many, many people at meetings relate how 12-Step programs have provided them with an antidote to this fraudulent feeling by providing a process for becoming authentic, honest people.

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