What to Do When Someone Lies about Drug Use

June 9, 2015

Two women having a family discussion

A lot of people struggle with drug abuse and addiction. While some people openly admit that they have a problem with drugs, the majority of people dealing with these problems deny that anything is wrong. Denial of any form can be dangerous, but denying drug abuse or addiction is especially risky. Not only does denial often keep people from getting the professional help that they need, it can also lead to severe and potentially life-threatening problems related to the drug abuse and addiction. For this reason, it’s essential for anyone dealing with drug abuse or addiction to talk to someone about the problem and seek out professional help. Furthermore, it’s sometimes necessary for loved ones of people struggling with drug abuse and addiction to confront the person in a way that will encourage him to get the help he needs.

Prevalence of Denial about Drug Use

SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2012, approximately 23.1 million people ages 12 and over needed treatment for a problem with substance use, but that only 2.5 million of these people actually received any treatment from a specialty facility. Of the remaining 20.6 million people who needed but didn’t receive treatment, only 1.1 million people said they felt like they needed treatment. As these figures suggest, most people struggling with substance abuse and addiction either don’t realize that they need help, or else hide their problem and pretend like everything is under control.

Staging an Intervention

Regardless of the reasons behind a person’s denying his drug abuse or addiction, it’s still vitally important for him to get help in order to regain control of his life. This is especially true when the person’s substance abuse or addiction affects others around him. When this happens, or when the person’s friends and family members feel like they cannot handle the substance use any longer, staging an intervention might be a good idea. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, drug abuse and addiction treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for it to be effective, and that, “sanctions or enticements from family, employment settings and/or the criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention rates and the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions.”

Interventions are definitely a useful tool to use when encouraging a loved one to get professional help for a substance use problem. The Mayo Clinic lists the following steps to take when having an intervention:

  • Planning: a family member or friend of the person with the substance use problem suggests having an intervention, and a group of the person’s loved ones meet together, possibly with a professional interventionist, to plan how and when the intervention will occur.
  • Gathering information: the group investigates the severity of the loved one’s problem and researches treatment options.
  • Forming an intervention team: these people will be present at the intervention.
  • Choosing specific consequences: each group member should identify what she will do if the person refuses treatment.
  • Writing down what to say: the intervention should be planned out and rehearsed so that the group members can be authoritative and precise; each group member should write down specific ways that the person’s substance abuse has created problems for those around him.
  • Intervention meeting: the person is invited to the intervention location without knowing about the intervention; when the intervention begins, each group member states what they wrote down and practiced earlier.
  • Follow-up: each group member, as well as other friends and family members, must be willing to help the person commit to his treatment and recovery by helping him choose a healthy and productive lifestyle and avoid the substance in the future.

Substance abuse and addiction can be difficult to deal with and even harder to address directly. Because of the negative stigma attached to these conditions, many people who struggle with them deny that they have a problem, even if it means lying about their substance use. When this happens to someone you care about, sometimes the most effective option is to hold an intervention.

Learn More about Interventions

If your friend or family member is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and need professional help, please give us a call at 615-490-9376. We can also help you find a quality interventionist and discuss further treatment options.

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