Have you noticed a friend or loved one is acting a little “off”? That they are drinking more often than usual? Running out of their prescription medications sooner than they should? Many people experience addiction and substance abuse. It is common for such individuals to use extraordinary measures to keep their drug use secret. The more adept loved ones become at hiding their addiction, naturally the more difficult it is for those who care to take notice.
Why Do Addicts Hide Drug Usage?
Anyone who knows an addict knows how convincing they can be, and how their lies keep growing until you are not sure what the truth is anymore. Since addicts are excellent at hiding the truth, they learn how to hide drugs and their addiction from those around them; there are many reasons why they do so.
- Hide Their Addiction – Lying is a deep-rooted problem with drug addiction. It is common for addicts to deny they have a substance abuse problem, what type of drug they are addicted to, how much is spent, and when the drugs are bought.
- Hide the Seriousness – Addicts frequently hide how often they are using drugs for recreational use, even if they can admit to trying drugs in the past. They may not be as open about how severe their drug usage has become.
- Self-Denial – No one intentionally sets out to become an addict. Unfortunately, the drug problem is a reality in today’s world, and drugs affect many families. If a user is hiding their drug usage from family and friends, they tend to think their problems are “hidden” (that is, less significant) as well. This could make them think they do not have to face any of the underlying issues with which they are actually struggling.
Once someone’s life is taken over by substance abuse, the addict feels a pressure that they must “use” to feel “normal” again. They may tell others, and even themselves, they do not have a problem and they can stop at any time, that the drug does not control their life. However, this is not the case. They can hide their drugs as a way of making themselves believe they can go without the drug and live without the high. As individuals go deeper and deeper into addiction, they learn how to lie, and their lying skills become more significant than anyone could imagine. Not only do they lie to loved ones, but they also lie to themselves. Since drugs have taken over their life, it may be hard for them to comprehend the consequences that come along with their actions of abuse. Addicts have a difficult time admitting they have a problem; that is until they seek treatment.
Signs of Hidden Drug Use
If you suspect someone is hiding their drug use, there are ways to find out without accusing them. Confronting a person about your concerns could cause further complications. The following is a list of signs to look for as a first step before confronting a loved one. Then you can contact an expert on what approach you should use to address the issue with a non-accusing, open, and loving tone.
Taking more than the recommended dosage.
When someone first becomes addicted to a drug, their drug tolerance is often low. However, as they continue to use, their body will build a higher tolerance to the drug. Once their tolerance builds, they will need to consume more to feel the high. An obvious sign is when their prescription medications run out before they should, or they are seeing multiple doctors to obtain different prescriptions. They may even be buying prescription drugs from someone else. If you have access to their prescription medications, you could note the refill dates, names, and possibly even count the pills to see if they are taking more than prescribed.
For alcohol abuse, pay closer attention to their drinking habits. If you notice they are drinking more during the day, instead of at night during social hour, it could be an indication that their alcohol tolerance has increased to keep pace with their growing habit. Alcohol is often more accessible to get away with using, and even easier to drink without anyone noticing. Some may hide liquor in their coffee or soda during the day, and if you are not aware, you will never know the difference.
Generally, as one goes deeper into their drug or alcohol use, they become more careless or carefree. When this happens, it makes it a little easier for you to notice when they slip up.
Hiding the drug in plain sight.
Addicts who are suffering from substance abuse will try to hide their drugs. Some people will hide substances in areas that are in plain sight, but often overlooked. Search such places as under the bed or the sink. If your loved one disappears to another room or leaves without notice, they could be trying to sneak off to use. Though you may be invading your loved one’s privacy, doing so could save their life if they continue to abuse substances without seeking help.
Notice items have gone missing.
As someone’s drug problem becomes more severe, it begins to take a toll on their pocketbook. Substance abuse issue is not cheap. If they are deep into their addiction, they may be grasping at straws to figure out how to keep up with their habits. Even someone who does not struggle with money may begin having financial problems because they are using their extra money to buy drugs or alcohol. Their career and earning potential may be hampered by their addiction. Drug abusers may start to ask you for money more often than usual. When borrowing money is no longer an option, they may begin stealing valuable items to sell for money or finding and taking your own money stash.
Behavior and attitude changes.
Drugs can completely change a person, even someone who is trying to hide their abuse from their family and friends. If you have noticed your loved one’s behavior has changed dramatically, this could be a sign of a drug habit. Addiction can change someone’s personality in the following ways:
- Appearing more unhappy than usual
- Increased tiredness
- Change in or no interest in hobbies
- Missing family functions
- Skipping school or work
- Increased mood swings
- Defensive when confronted about drug usage
Physical signs and appearance.
Addiction not only affects your behavior and financial status, but it can also alter your hygiene routines and other physical appearances. For example, someone suffering from drug or alcohol dependence could have bloodshot eyes, causing them to consistently use eye drops to prevent red eyes. Trembling hands is another indicator that they are suffering from alcoholism or are having withdrawal symptoms. If someone is using drugs intravenously, you may notice marks on their arms from where the syringe has entered their veins. Also, you can watch to see if they are wearing long sleeves in warmer months. Addicts often do this, because they are worried someone may look at the track marks.
Different drugs can cause various physical symptoms; some are more noticeable while others are indirect. Other signs of drug abuse could be slurred words, being confused, the smell of alcohol on their breath or a red face. Some signs and symptoms get harder to hide as drug and alcohol use increases.
Watching for these signs is essential because they could be caused from an underlying issue. Addiction also affects loved ones as it is hard for them to see what used to be a healthy loving individual turn into someone they do not recognize anymore.
Looking for Drug Paraphernalia
When looking for hiding places, you may also find drug paraphernalia. Devices which make it easy for a person to use the drug by smoking, inhaling, or injecting could be found.
Look for tobacco papers, cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper rolls, masking tape or tin foil that is kept in odd areas. Paper rolls, tape and tin foil, can be used to make hashish or crack pipes. These types of homemade pipes are easy to hide and dispose off if needed. Also, finding metal or plumbing pipes where not required may be another sign. Empty cigarette or cigar papers or vape pens can be used to fill marijuana with. Some people will even purchase a glass or water pipes.
Addicts who snort drugs such as cocaine may have mirrors, lighters, small spoons, or razor blades in their possession. Also, paper tubes, rolled up money, and short straws are other paraphernalia devices used for snorting.
Hypodermic needles are the most common way for drug users to inject a drug. The needles may be kept in a small container instead of laying around. These containers can be made of cloth, plastic, wood or metal. The container would need to be small and portable since it takes a few minutes to prepare and inject the drug.
Get Help with Drug Abuse
If you have or know someone who shows any of the above signs of addiction, long-term health issues, or has any paraphernalia in their possession, they may require professional help. Many drug addicts that abuse drugs need medical attention, so they can detox under a medical professional’s supervision. Supervised withdrawal is done to help prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms. When an addict decides to join a rehabilitation program such as Serenity Acres, they will have access to many different treatment and therapy options. These programs are geared to help addicts learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, free from drugs and alcohol as well as how to deal with life and the complications that come along without relapsing.
If you have a substance abuse problem, with help you can overcome your addiction and lead a healthy, clean and sober life. Finding recovery can also help you rebuild lost relationships with family members and friends. Contact Serenity Acres today to see what program will best fit you and get you on the road to recovery.