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“Are You On Drugs?” 5 Lies Your Kids Will Tell You

Posted on September 26, 2017

To speak with a counselor at Oaks of Hope, call 866-705-HOPE


As parents, we desperately want to stop drug abuse and addiction in it’s earliest stages,

but addiction is most clever at deception and manipulation.

The longer addiction is dictating behavior, the more powerful the addiction becomes,

and all the more devastating.


We have asked adult clients recovering from alcohol and substance abuse about their earliest drug use. In all but a small percentage, their parents did try to intervene early on, but the clients were adept at deflecting the question of drug abuse. In fact, they were so convincing that their parents often moved away from the addiction topic altogether, until the evidence was indisputable and seemingly incurable. By the time the truth was discovered, the client was already separating from the family, and in many cases overdosing. Eventually, they only spoke to their family when incarcerated, in addiction treatment or in the hospital.

Addiction is like dirty dishes.

They’re clearly dirty and piling up day after day,

but you’re crazy for suggesting there’s a problem.


When a parent confronts their child or adult child regarding alcohol or drug abuse, these are the top deflective answers we recorded, starting with #5.


#5 - “It’s just pot.” - Many parents believe that and soon find out it’s more than just pot and has been for some time. Even if it is “just pot”, most drug addiction starts with marijuana or alcohol between the ages of 12-15. By the same token, your kids will never tell you how bad it is. Parents have brought their young adults to treatment telling us “She doesn’t shoot up. She just takes pills.” Then we find evidence of needles on intake.


#4 - “That’s not mine.” - When paraphernalia was found in their room, in their backpack or on their person, the prevailing answer that worked, was just that simple, but usually with a very detailed story, deflecting with anger toward someone else. From Client FD*, laughing, “Are you kidding me? It’s that disgusting piece of crap in my algebra class. That A#($*%H#^%e! The teacher said she was going to go through his backpack, and right before that he walked by me and I felt him bump my backpack.” After all, addiction has always been a blame game.


#3 - “You know I would never do that. I’m not stupid.” - This one often came with a dissertation about an older “black sheep” family member. Client MD recalls, “I grew up watching my Uncle Joe, who we all loved, just destroy his life. So I would say, ‘I’m not Uncle Joe. I’ve seen that my whole life. I’m not stupid.”


#2 - “My friends are not on drugs.” - Sober hangs with sober. High hangs with high. It’s people, places and things that fuel addiction, and the addicted know it. This is their world. It’s much like a cult, in that their using friends become like family, because they accept the addiction, while family doesn’t. Like many, Client MB* used this one proactively, “Whenever they would suggest that I was using, I would choose a childhood friend they’ve always liked, ‘Do  you think ____ would hang out with me if I was on drugs?’ “ When parents question about their kids’ friends, we heard the following: Client FC turned it around on them, “You’re so judgemental. ____ has a learning disability. She’s not on drugs. How can you say that about her? You’ve been friends with her mom since we were in kindergarten.” Client MC, “You know I went to his Dad’s funeral. He’s not on drugs. He’s just going through a rough time.”


#1 - “Go ahead and drug test me.” - This was the all time favorite to cover addiction. We asked why they would so readily submit to drug testing, and even beg for it. Client FA* said, “They’re totally not expecting it. And it works. I knew they never would, and they never did.” Client MC* echoed, “I said it all the time, so confidently, and bottom line is, they really wanted to believe I was not using drugs. So that’s all it took.” Client MA added, “I just knew I could get clean urine.” Client FB* “I knew they probably would just accept that answer, and they did. And if they ever did test me, I knew I could cleanse.” Client FD* “I said it every time they asked me. I even said, ‘Would you please get a urine test, so we can end this discussion once and for all?’ and they never gave me a test.”


What’s a parent to do?


  • Don’t ever ask if she will drug test, until you actually have the test in your possession and intend to test immediately.

  • Be prepared to enforce consequences if he won’t test, and be ready to state clearly what you will require if he tests dirty.

  • Buy an instant urinalysis test and have it on hand, without letting her know you actually have the test. You should get a five pack online for the same price as what you could buy one for at the drugstore. The extra tests won’t go to waste. You’ll want to randomly test over time, no matter what the results are. Make sure it’s at least “10 panel”, so that results will be more specific.

  • Ask to talk in a room where you have the test tucked away within reach. Tell him you’re concerned that he may be using some form of drug and ask him if he will drug test. When he says yes to the test, act quickly. Say, “Thank you”, as you simultaneously reach for the test and put it in front of him. Sometimes, when when you surprise him with actually having the test, he will admit to pot, and maybe even express remorse, saying there’s now no need to waste the test. Use it anyway. You want to make sure there’s nothing else that will come up. You need to know exactly what you’re dealing with.


Regardless of the results of the test, Chuck Wade, Executive Director of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, urges parents to drug test randomly, “... random drug testing doesn’t mean you’re suspicious of your child, or that you’re merely trying to ‘catch him in the act.’ Rather, it gives him an out when he’s facing the pressure to use.”    


*Alumni (still sober past clients) and Clients in treatment at Oaks of Hope Detox Residential Addiction Treatment, between the ages of 18 and 36 shared with us. Many suffered for years in the lifestyle of addiction, before they finally did get clean. Most express deep regret that they had been so adept at deceiving their parents when they were in their early teens or preteens.