If someone in your life developed a substance use disorder, would you recognize that they are in crisis? Learning to identify the signs someone is hiding a drug addiction can help you prevent a problem from turning into a tragedy.
How Do People Hide Their Drug Addiction?
Shame, guilt, and a host of other negative emotions can push people to hide their struggles with addiction even from their closest friends and family members. Here are a few ways they may try to do this:
- Disguising their substance abuse, such as by pouring vodka into a water bottle or surreptitiously adding whiskey to their coffee.
- Hiding alcohol or other drugs throughout their house, in their car, and in their workplace. This is so they will have access to the substance when their cravings become overwhelming.
- Wearing shapeless, baggy clothing to hide weight loss or gain. Compulsive substance abuse can lead to significant fluctuations in weight.
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, even in warm weather. This may be an attempt to conceal abscesses, bruises, and other evidence of injection drug use.
- Frequently claiming that they have to work late, or even lying about traveling out of town for a work-related purpose. This is often so they can abuse drugs without being observed by family and friends.
- Faking injuries and illnesses, changing doctors, or visiting multiple doctors to acquire prescription medications that they don’t need for any legitimate medical purpose.
Signs Someone Is Hiding a Drug Addiction
No matter how hard a person tries to disguise their substance use, certain signs can indicate that they have developed a serious problem. Here are few possible signs someone is hiding a drug addiction:
- They exhibit sudden and significant shifts in mood attitude and energy level, usually for no apparent reason or with no obvious external cause.
- They sometimes struggle with focus, concentration, and memory. This may include having difficulty following a conversation or recalling important events from their past.
- They have started to act much more aggressively and recklessly than they used to. This can include lashing out in anger, getting into physical fights, going on gambling or spending sprees, driving dangerously, and having unprotected sex.
- They have been experiencing unexplained financial problems, which may lead them to try to borrow money, sell personal possessions, or even steal from family and friends.
- They have unintentionally gained or lost a considerable amount of weight.
- They no longer participate in hobbies or other activities that had previously been important to them.
- They are frequently absent from school or work – and when they are present, their performance at work is often substandard.
- They have begun to pull away from family and friends, and they are extremely secretive about how they have been spending their time and who they have been associating with.
Dangers of Hiding Addiction
Here are just a few of the many potential dangers of hiding a substance use disorder:
- Hiding an addiction prevents people from getting the help they need.
- It can also isolate people from those who care most about them (and who can provide much-needed support).
- The lies and deceptions that are necessary to hide an addiction can damage or even ruin friendships and other important relationships.
- The longer a person struggles with untreated addiction, the greater their risk becomes for serious harm to their physical, psychological, and social well-being.
What to Do if You Think a Loved One is Hiding Their Addiction
If you think that someone you care about is hiding an addiction, here are a few steps you can take:
- Educate yourself about the disease of addiction. The more you understand about what your loved one is going through, the better prepared you will be to provide meaningful support.
- Talk to your loved one. This can be difficult, but it is important. Let them know that you’re worried about them and that you want to help. Remember that this should be a conversation, not a confrontation. Resist the urge to lecture or issue ultimatums. Your goal with this initial talk is to start the conversation and establish that you are on your loved one’s side.
- Listen to your loved one. What they say and how they say it can give you valuable insights into their current mindset. Be prepared for pushback, which can sometimes look like anger or hostility, and do whatever you can to prevent the discussion from devolving into an argument.
- Research types and sources of treatment. If your loved one acknowledges that they need help, work with them to find the program that best aligns with their needs and preferences. If they aren’t yet willing to enter treatment, you can still explore options in your area, so that you will have the information they need when they’re ready.
- Get help for yourself. This can be a large burden for one person. If at all possible, get a small group of close friends and trusted family members to help you. It can also be a good idea to meet with a therapist or counselor to process how you have been impacted by your loved one’s struggles with addiction.
Contact Our Drug Addiction Treatment Center at Renewal
If someone that you care about has become addicted to alcohol or another drug, Renewal Health Group may have the solutions you are seeking. We offer personalized addiction treatment at multiple levels of care in several convenient locations throughout southern California. To learn more about how we can help your loved one, please visit our Contact page or call us today.