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How to Tell If Someone Is Lying About Using Drugs

by
author image Ralph Heibutzki
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.
How to Tell If Someone Is Lying About Using Drugs
A young woman puts her head down on her desk with laptop open. Photo Credit Poike/iStock/Getty Images

Lying and substance abuse go hand in hand, as those who struggle with addictions are unlikely to admit the full extent of their problem. Fear of negative consequences such as losing a job is often enough to convince an addicted person that lying is their best option. Actions speak louder than words, though. Learning how addicts conceal their activities will put you in a better position to tell when someone close to you is lying about his unhealthy behavior.

Abrupt Mood Swings

Sudden personality changes are one sign of a loved one's lying about his substance abuse when his mood swings tell a different story, advises the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. At various times, you will notice angry outbursts, irritable behavior or total lethargy. Periods of extreme agitation or hyperactivity are also likely. The addicted person offers little or no explanation for his behavior, or tries to explain it away by suggesting reasons that don't make sense, such as claiming to be tired or overworked.

Denying Problems

Addicted persons use various defense mechanisms to avoid facing their problems, says clinical counselor Candace Plattor. For example, your loved one may try to minimize his behavior by claiming his preferred substance isn't as harmful as another user's habit. He may deny having a problem, shift blame onto others or suggest that he's not ready to quit. Making such claims allows the addict to assert that recovery is unnecessary, Plattor notes, even when he knows that his behavior is unhealthy.

Irresponsible Spending

Asking to borrow money for unusual or unexplained financial needs is a common indicator of someone lying to cover a substance abuse problem, according to treatment counselor Steven Gifford in his article, "Identifying Signs of Addiction," on the PsychCentral website. When that option doesn't work, an addicted person may steal money and personal items or put his habit above paying his own household expenses. Relatives and roommates will likely hear the addict complain about not having enough for basic needs, while having sufficient funds to continue his addiction.

Social Isolation

Physical and psychological withdrawal is a common pattern among people who struggle with substance abuse problems. One sign is a sudden interest in making long trips away from home for unexplained reasons, Gifford says. A minor errand becomes the pretext for a lengthy disappearance to indulge in addictive behavior elsewhere, such as at a friend's house. The addicted person may also retreat to a quiet area at home where others can't see him. Either way, you're right to question his inability or unwillingness to explain his solitary outings.

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