One of the characteristic signs of addiction is lying about addiction to friends and loved ones. For example, those with an alcohol use disorder will often downplay the amount they consume in hopes of detracting from their actual consumption. Alcohol may be stashed in drawers at work, in the car glove compartment, or in the back of closets.
But it isn’t only individuals with an alcohol problem that are lying about addiction or dependency. Some may hide their use of stimulants like Adderall or minimize their marijuana use by claiming to only partake occasionally, when in reality a serious addiction has developed.
For the people at the receiving end of the mistruths, it can come as a real shock when they discover their loved one or close friend has developed a drug or alcohol addiction. Upon learning about the substance use problem, family members may scramble to find an available rehab bed. Knowing how to recognize the early warning signs of addiction can help people get help for their loved one earlier on before the substance use disorder has spiraled.
Warning Signs of Addiction
The signs of addiction may be subtle at first. These may be barely perceptible changes that you notice, that something is off with this person. Maybe their daily habits have recently changed, with slight shifts in routines or behaviors. Maybe they no longer look you directly in the eye, or you notice their appearance has changed. While the warning signs of addiction will vary somewhat based on which substance is involved, there are some general warning signs that can signal a loved one may have a substance use disorder. These include:
- Change in eating habits
- Change in sleeping habits
- Neglects personal hygiene or overall appearance
- Isolating behaviors
- Secretive behaviors
- Financial problems
- Problems in relationships
- Neglects family responsibilities and obligations
- Missing work, decline in work performance, trouble on the job
- Finding alcohol or drugs hidden in the car or house
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Lack of motivation
- Physical changes, such as pinpoint pupils, bloating, rapid weight loss
- Unexplained illness, such as hangovers or withdrawal symptoms
When some or most of these signs are present it is time to address the individual and ask them if they are okay. Do not be surprised, however, if he or she denies they have a problem or tries to minimize the obvious signs of trouble.
5 Ways Lying About Addiction Helps Save Face
When an individual has developed a substance use disorder they may go to extreme lengths to avoid being discovered. Even when the signs of addiction are blatantly evident, the individual may continue to deny having a problem. Many are lying about addiction because of the following reasons:
- Stigma. There is still a significant stigma around addiction, regardless of efforts to inform the public and encourage a supportive attitude towards those who struggle with the disease of addiction. Many fear their reputation will be tainted.
- Fear. Even when the individual is fully aware that he or she has a problem with drugs or alcohol there is a fear that if they are discovered they may lose their job or that significant others will reject them.
- Pride. With males especially, admitting they have a problem with drugs or alcohol is seen as a sign of weakness. To them it may send the message that they can’t handle the substance or are in some way deficient.
- Detox. Fear of going through detox and withdrawal is a very common reason why many will lie about their substance use disorder or try to cover it up. They get a feel for the withdrawal symptoms whenever they come down from the substance and fear going through the pain or discomfort that is associated with detox.
- Ambiguity. Even if it is obvious that the individual is in need of professional addiction treatment, the individual may avoid this reality because they have not reached the point where they are committed to sobriety.
When to Stage an Intervention
When a loved one is in denial about a substance use disorder, and its negative effects are becoming a serious problem, the family members may benefit from the services of an intervention professional. An intervention is a carefully planned event where family members and close friends of someone with an alcohol use disorder gather to share their concerns for the individual, as well as describe the emotional pain they experience due to the loved one’s addiction. The ultimate goal of the intervention is to persuade the addict to agree to get treatment.
When a family member is resistant to getting help it can be expected that they will likely reject intervention efforts. In fact, an intervention can be highly emotional and tempers may flare. For this reason it is best to have interventionist services to manage the encounter. Once the family members have relayed their feelings to the loved one, the interventionist will ask them to consider rehab. In the best-case scenario, the individual will accept the suggestion to get help and agree to go into treatment. However, sometimes the outcome won’t be the desired one, however, the seeds have been planted that may lead the individual to consider treatment in the near future.
How to Prepare Mentally for Rehab
If a loved one agrees to get the help they need it is important to be supportive of them. There are several steps that can help someone get mentally prepared for rehab. Encourage them to take care of the following items prior to starting treatment:
- Meet with employer’s H.R. department to file for an extended medical leave of absence. The employer cannot terminate an employee who needs addiction treatment, as there are federal laws that protect the employee.
- Plan for childcare or school transportation if they are responsible for these.
- Prepare financially. Get bills paid and provide for the financial needs of the family while in treatment.
- Check insurance benefits. Learn about copays and approximate out of pocket expenses for treatment and related services and medications.
- Research rehabs. Find the treatment program that best fits your recovery needs and personal preferences. Decide on level of care regarding outpatient or residential treatment.
What Addiction Treatment Looks Like
Once the intake and evaluation process is completed, the rehab will design a tailored treatment plan for the individual. Treatment will involve several components, starting with a medical detox.
Detox: The detox and withdrawal process generally takes about a week to complete, with some exceptions where it may take longer. The severity of the withdrawal effects will be determined by the individual’s addiction history, consumption, type of substance, age, and health status. Medical interventions are provided throughout the detox process to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.
Psychotherapy: Evidence-based therapies are the types of psychotherapies that have been clinically studied and shown to be effective for treating addiction. Examples of evidence-based approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management (CM), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and psychodynamic therapy.
Group therapy: Small groups provide an outlet for peers in treatment to get to know each other by interacting within a supportive setting. Group sessions encourage participation as a source of helpful information while also providing an additional support system.
Family therapy: Family groups help the whole family unit heal and move forward together as their loved one enters recovery. A therapist will guide the family members in exercises that show them how to improve conflict resolution skills and communication techniques.
Medication-assisted therapy: Medication-assisted treatment is sometimes appropriate for helping someone stabilize in recovery. Naltrexone is a non-narcotic medication that helps reduce cravings and relapse risk for individuals in recovery for alcohol or opioid addiction.
Education: Classes help teach interpersonal skills, life skills, relapse prevention planning, stress management, and ongoing addiction education.
Complementary activities: Holistic therapies can further enhance the treatment experience by promoting relaxation while reducing stress. These might include yoga, equine therapy, art therapy, massage, and acupuncture.
How to Secure Recovery and Sustain Sobriety
After completing a treatment program the next phase of recovery will require constant vigilance. A successful recovery requires a lifetime commitment, not only to sobriety but to also recognize the signs when recovery is threatened. Relapse does not just suddenly occur, but instead sneaks up in small stages. Get to know the signs of an impending relapse and resist its occurrence by taking proactive steps:
- Adhere to your aftercare plan:
- Go to meetings
- Go to weekly outpatient therapy sessions
- Consider sober living housing for a few months
- Follow your relapse prevention plan:
- Revisit your list of potential triggers and actively avoid them
- Review your recovery goals and remind yourself of the consequences of a relapse
- Practice the recovery tools learned in rehab
- Review your plan of action when cravings threaten recovery
- Practice stress-reduction activities, such as meditation, massage, yoga
- Establish healthy habits, have a regular sleep schedule, maintain personal hygiene, get up early and be productive
- Build a strong social network
If your loved one is still lying about addiction and denying they have a problem, don’t give up on them. Just continue to communicate your support for when they are ready to commit to sobriety.
Capo by the Sea Residential Rehab and Aftercare Services
Capo by the Sea is a leading luxury addiction and dual diagnosis treatment program in the coastal community of Dana Point, California. With private rooms, unmatched luxury, and a wide array of spa-like amenities, Capo by the Sea resembles a seaside retreat with the features of a high-end resort. The expert clinical staff at Capo provides the most modern addiction recovery interventions. If someone you love is lying about addiction but needs help, please contact us today at 888-529-2114.