Washington County is a county that is located in the western portion of the state of Maryland. Home to an estimated population of more than 151,000 people as of 2019 according to the United States Census Bureau, Washington County is one of the ten most populous counties in the state. From 2015 to 2017 there were 174 drug deaths in Washington County according to a report published by County Health Rankings, a rate which was among the highest in the state for any county during that time period. This shows exactly how many people are not getting the help they need when it comes to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and detox services. Every single death was a life that could have been saved if the person had gotten the right kind of help for their needs at the right point in their life. But not everyone does, and it is important to examine why so that this does not continue to be such a major problem.
One of the biggest reasons why people never make it into treatment is because they reject help. This is particularly true in the relatively early phases of addiction when the person is still actively hiding their drug use. Too many families discover that their loved one was using drugs because they discover them dead from an overdose. This has become more and more common as drugs become stringer and the overall risk for overdose increases. Whereas before the margin of error was larger, now with drugs like Fentanyl there may be no safe amount to consume. But how do we help someone if we do not know that they are using drugs? The person who is early in addiction will hide their drug use at all costs because they value it greatly.
Drugs “solve” some problem for the person who is addicted to them, otherwise, they wouldn’t have kept taking them. This could be anything from physical pain to mental anguish, but the drug provides them with an escape from whatever it is. To this degree, the drugs have value. Since they have yet to experience many negative consequences from using, they have no reason to stop. Even though they may know the risks of addiction, they will convince themselves that they are in control still and could stop if they wanted to. They just don’t yet. All too soon they will be unable to as they begin to experience consequences but are now dependent on the drug.
This person hides their drug use from anyone they believe would try to get them to stop. They do not want to lose their coping mechanism, so they will lie and deny using drugs even when confronted or caught red-handed. It is important that you are willing to risk upsetting them by confronting them on any suspicions that you have. Even though this will likely take multiple attempts to get to the truth, just keep trying. Do not get upset with them no matter what happens. They already know you do not approve, otherwise, they wouldn’t have hidden it from you. Stay calm and be willing to listen and help whenever they are ready. If this is not working or they are at too much risk, an interventionist should be used. It may be a last resort but is worth it when it comes to saving a life.