5 Ways People Hide Addiction

by | Feb 1, 2018 | Addiction Treatment | 3 comments


Addiction has many faces and may be affecting the people you least expect. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 24 million U.S. adults and teenagers were estimated to misuse substances in 2012, yet only 11.2 percent received treatment for addiction from a specialty facility.

Many people are skilled in hiding substance addictions and concealing them in various ways.

How Loved Ones Hide Their Addictions

People hide their addictions to drugs and alcohol for many reasons. Perhaps they have an image to protect and wish to protect their reputation. Maybe substance use occurs during work, and hiding it is necessary to keep a job.

Others may realize they have a problem, yet they wish to prevent children, spouses, or other loved ones from finding out about it.

Whatever the reason, hiding an addiction can be quite dangerous. People with secretive substance misuse problems are under little or no pressure from others to seek help and sobriety. Some many not even realize they have a problem at all.

1. Hiding Substances and Paraphernalia

Substance misuse always leaves a trail of clues. People hiding their addictions will go to great lengths to cover up any signs of a drug or alcohol problem. This may mean driving to dispose of empty bottles in other places besides the home, such as public trash containers.

Medicines, drugs, and alcohol may also be hidden in inconspicuous places throughout the home, such as underneath floorboards, in attics, behind walls, or in a garage.

Often, a person who abuses alcohol will repackage spirits and other alcoholic beverages in soft drink bottles, water bottles, or other types of canisters.

2. Acquiring Substances in Different Towns

A person hiding drug or alcohol use will have geographical hurdles to overcome in order to prevent people who live in the same town from noticing a potential problem.

For example, a person who drinks excessively may drive to other towns to purchase alcohol from several different liquor stores – especially those where he or she will not be recognized.

Likewise, a person misusing prescription medications may begin visiting many different doctors in various towns to hide an addiction to drugs like opiates, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines.

3. Lying About Their Schedules

Many people with patterns of addiction will work hard to prevent loved ones from finding out about their substance use, even if that means lying. Hiding the truth often requires a web of lies, many of which can be quite convincing.

People who misuse substances may be dishonest about where they are going or where they have been. They may claim to have had to work late, run errands, visited a friend, or some other made-up engagement.

Ultimately, individuals hiding addiction must tell countless ‘small’ lies to protect the one ‘big’ lie from being exposed.

4. Admitting to Little to Hide a Lot

Sometimes, a person will try to hide an addiction by admitting to some, but not all of the problem. For example, he or she may drink in moderation while at a party or out to dinner with friends, yet secretly drink more before and after the event.

The drug-addicted individual may admit to using ‘minor’ drugs, such as marijuana, to distract people from noticing more serious addictions to drugs like heroin or cocaine.

5. Hiding Behind Success

Drug and alcohol misuse are frequently associated with unfair stereotypes that help hide addiction in many successful individuals. Often, people correlate addiction with social deviance, crime, unemployment or other lifestyle factors that imply a person is some sort of ‘junkie’.

Addiction affects people from all walks of life, including individuals who carry esteemed titles or seem to contribute to society. Success is often a shield to hide behind and a justification for using substances.

By highlighting one’s achievements, it may be possible to take the spotlight off a potential drug or alcohol problem.