When people imagine someone struggling with addiction, they often call to mind characters they’ve seen in movies or TV shows that are almost always (harmful and misleading) and stereotypical. Realistically, many people are functional in their addiction and don’t show any obvious signs of having a chronic illness that they carefully maintain for months and even years.
There are many cases where people who begin misusing substances don’t realize they may be slipping into a hidden addiction and firmly hold onto denial as a way to rationalize their consumption. These situations frequently occur within the workplace and in families, where concealing substance misuse is essential for maintaining the status quo.
There are specific signs that can signal the existence of a secret addiction, and they’re necessary for people to know and identify for themselves and their loved ones.
People who misuse substances more and more tend to increase their tolerance, requiring more of the drug or alcohol of choice. This is caused by an increase in the frequency of misuse as well as the amount needed each time to attain the desired effect. For those who drink, the quality of liquor may decline substantially, sometimes resorting to “bottom shelf” options that can be harmful to their health. Those who misuse prescription drugs may go through their medications faster, leading them to resort to illicit substances. A few other things to note:
People misusing alcohol may suddenly change their drink of choice to something higher proof, for example switching from wine to hard liquor
Those misusing prescription pills may start “doctor shopping” to obtain more prescriptions or can be found buying or stealing other people’s medication so the bottles may have someone else’s name and information on them
Making excuses for missing medication or alcohol is also a method to obtain more or to make excuses for missing substances around the home
A common sign that someone attempts to conceal their substance use is finding drugs or alcohol in non-descript bottles in random places. Hiding substances, especially legal ones like liquor or prescription drugs, means their usage may raise suspicion, so the person has made concerted efforts to obscure their presence in a shared living space. More details to consider:
Common places hidden substances are found are: below the bathroom sink behind bottles of cleaner or mouthwash, reused water bottles stashed in a garage or storage area, car compartments, jewelry cases, toolboxes, inside purses, and more.
People hiding their substances around the home may become territorial or protective over the area demanding privacy. They will often become uneasy or exhibit guarding behavior of certain spots that could raise tempers if disrupted.
Frequent visits to hiding areas to consume substances may not appear obvious, especially when the bathroom is in question. However, noticing whether the toilet is flushed or the person’s demeanor once they’ve come out (or shortly after) can help provide clues.
Missing money: Addiction will take a toll on anyone’s bank account, but sometimes things begin to go missing as well. It’s not uncommon for people to pawn valuables to make extra cash to obtain more substances.
Decline in performance: Lackluster performance at school, job loss, prolonged unemployment, and neglecting domestic responsibilities is a sign things aren’t going well.
Mood instability: Unpredictable temper, bouts of unexplained lethargy or sickness, and overall neglect in hygiene are trademarks of hidden addiction.
Middlesex Recovery makes addiction treatment accessible to people who need help but can’t do it independently. Using evidence-based methods, and with the help of specialized medical providers and nursing staff, enrolled patients can being to heal from substance use disorder discreetly, in the comfort of a private medical office. Call or message a local Middlesex Recovery facility today to learn more.