Amy Dresner

Coming Clean

6 Things an Addict Will Never Tell You

Lying, denial, stigma, and shame keep addicts from being honest.

Posted Oct 25, 2017

There's an old AA saying that goes “You can tell when an addict is lying because their lips are moving.” Unfortunately, lying is the loyal ride-along to addiction. As a six-time rehab-veteran, an everything-fiend, an addiction columnist for, and author of my debut addiction memoir My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean…well, I should know. So here are six things an addict will never tell you. 

1. If they’re high right now

Potheads will be all “I’m soooooo stoned” or drunks will be like “Whoa, am I drunk!” But users of hard drugs like coke, meth or heroin, will deny that they’re loaded till the day they die. If they nod off, it’s because they pulled another all-nighter at work. If they seem speedy, they’ll just wave it off to too many Nitro cold brews or to being hypo-manic. If their nose is dripping, well, they’ve got a cold, allergies, or both.

2. How often they’re using

“Oh, just on the weekends, you know, at parties and stuff.” Translation: “I open my eyes and crack open a beer and then do a rail of coke off my bedside table.” However much they say they’re drinking or using, double or even triple it.

3. What they’re really using

Just drinking beer means “guzzling vodka out of the bottle”. “Just smoking weed” means interspersed with cocaine and ecstasy. “Smoking heroin” means they’re shooting and they’ve got more pin marks than a voodoo doll. Wearing a long sleeve shirt in 95-degree weather, huh? Make sure you look between their toes. Give them a pedicure if you have to. Just get down there.

4. Any bad repercussions from their use

 You’re not going to hear that they got fired for being blasted on the job. That car wreck was because “This guy cut me off.” They’re not going to tell you they got suspended from school for smelling like a weed dispensary. They’re not going to confess that they got a DUI. (That night class? That’s to learn how to crochet jumpsuits for their Chinese crested.) 

5. That they are doing illegal stuff to support their habit

 Once you’re on to their “bad budgeting” or tired of lending them money on the reg, they will start to find other ways to support their habit. And if these things involve selling a kidney, their body or maybe just little baggies of “party tricks”, you are certainly not going to hear about it - until they need you to bring that $5k to the precinct.

6. That they can’t control their use

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of shame and stigma around addiction. They’ll never admit to being an addict until there’s an intervention or it gets really really bad. Let’s be honest, nobody is dying to go to rehab (even the cushy ones). Nobody wants to become a teetotaler for life. Nobody is like “Woohoo, I can’t wait to sit in dark church basements with bad coffee and hear about how I have an incurable disease.” They will tell you “It’s just a stage," “I’m depressed," “It got out of control but it’s better now,” or the infamous: “Tomorrow I’m gonna get it together." They won’t.