Proof of the Problem

Parent trying proof drug use to the son.

It’s common for families to get stuck proving their addict is, in fact, an addict. They feel a need to convince themselves or others that action needs to be taken, so they do things like search the addict’s room, follow him around with GPS, smell his breath, or round up empty bottles, baggies, hypodermic needles, prescriptions, and other evidence of drug use. They also often believe that, if confronted with physical evidence, the addict will be unable to deny he has a problem.

  • Well, I have news for you; addicts can invalidate, obfuscate and cast doubt on seemingly indisputable evidence with such alacrity that they can stand there with crack pipe in hand and categorically deny they use drugs.

  • Here’s the good news: You do not need to prove anything. Move on to finding a program and getting him into it. Even as an interventionist I don’t confront addicts. I never have and never will, and I have a success rate well over 90%.

An intervention is not a process of discovery. It is not a time to “get answers.” Proof of drug use is only valuable to the extent it motivates you to move things forward, so if you are not sure that there is a problem that merits treatment, then you are not ready to do an intervention.

If you are certain there is a problem, put the urine test away. Put the pipes and the scorched aluminum foil in the trash. If an offer of rehabilitation is on the table, it’s obvious what everyone is talking about.

Open hand

The world of the addict is full of shadows and fear, and he is already feeling as wrong as he can possibly be. He does not need to be proved wrong. He needs to be given a way out.

This may go against Uncle Mike who wants to say his piece, or other family members seeking to justify their treatment of the addict or to condemn his treatment of them, but such actions will only create a greater rift in the family and literally serves no purpose.

If your loved one has lost his way, focus your efforts on finding a program like Narconon and then present it as enticingly as possible. In fact, if the issue of proving the addiction comes up, push that conversation aside. Instead, make the point that you are not there to judge or evaluate whether the person is an addict, but you are there to let him know that you are no longer willing to participate in his self-destructive behavior.

I remember an intervention I did where one family member presented me with a box of old pipes, baggies, burnt foil, etc. He had a big smile on his face and expected me to welcome this gift with an “Aha!” and then use it, no doubt, during the meeting we were planning in order to corner the addict into a confession. But, as an ex-addict, I knew I would never have wanted that done to me. It would have just pissed me off and make me distrust everyone, especially since I hid my stash pretty well, I wouldn’t know what my family was up to. On top of that, it’s the ultimate in humiliation. Humiliating or embarrassing an addict should never be on your agenda. Humiliating someone, especially an addict, is not only pointless, it’s downright counterproductive. “Getting to the truth” is utterly unimportant during an intervention.

The only truth that’s important is the fact that your loved one has lost his way in life, not how much cocaine he does or whether it’s crack or freebase, legal or illegal or whatever. The mere fact that you’re reading this tells a tale. If your loved one were in good shape you’d be on some other website reading the news. But you’re not. You’re here. This means you already know your loved one has lost his way. What he needs now is a way out, and a solution he can have. A way out that doesn’t involve the embarrassment of “proof” will be received a lot better than one that does.


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