Montgomery County is a county that is located in the southwestern portion of the state of Maryland. Home to an estimated population of more than 1 million people as of 2019 according to the United States Census Bureau, Montgomery County is the most populous county in the state. But one of the problems with being heavily populated is that during America’s drug epidemic, this usually means increased rates of drug use. From 2015 to 2017 there were 347 drug deaths in Montgomery County according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, one of the highest rates in the state for a county during that time period. This shows exactly how many lives could have been saved if each of these people had gotten the right kind of help at the right time from drug and alcohol rehabilitation and detox services. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and it is important to understand why so that we can do a better job of helping people.
One of the biggest reasons why people do not get the help they need is because they do not want it. This can be difficult to understand but it is part of the process of addiction. Deep down, the person may not want to live that lifestyle anymore, but they are motivated by fear. The person who is using drugs is escaping a painful reality in some way, and the drugs are actually a solution to their problems. They may be suffering from anything like depression, physical pain, mental anguish, or a host of other unwanted conditions. The drugs provide relief and an escape, so are used by the person as the primary coping mechanism in their life. Taking these away means losing the only thing that provides them any comfort at this point. Because of this, they may refuse treatment out of fear even though they actually want to get better. Until life on drugs becomes so painful that losing their coping tool seems worth it, they will continue to use drugs and avoid treatment.
The above is particularly true of someone who is relatively early in the cycle of addiction. They have experienced so few consequences from their drug use that they have no reason to give up something that they view is helping them. For many people, discovering their drug of choice is described as the first time they felt normal, or like they fit in. This illustrates the power of drugs and addiction, as well as the difficulty in getting someone to give up a maladaptive coping mechanism such as drug use. This is why they will hide their drug use from anyone who they view may try to get them to stop. This is always the people who are the closest to them. If confronted about their drug use, they will usually lie or deny it, explaining that this was the only time, etc. If backed into a corner regarding treatment they may become hostile and try to get away. This is a sure sign that they are using drugs, even if they deny it or become outraged. Anyone who is not using drugs will understand why you are trying to help them, and they will not have a kind of reaction.
Even though it can be difficult, it is still very possible to help someone who is early in addiction. First, you must confront them on any suspicions that you have. If you suspect it, it is probably true so listen to your gut. This probably will not go well but it is important that you remain patient and not be accusatory or threatening. Instead, be understanding and willing to listen without judgment. While this may not work the first or the second time, you are bringing the issue to the forefront and letting the person know that you see what is happening. This will speed up the cycle of them eventually disclosing their “secret” and being willing to receive help. If you never do this, they will not force the issue and will hide it as long as they can. This could mean them overdosing before ever getting a chance to be helped. Don’t wait when it comes to addiction. You never know what could be the factor that saves a life.