For many of us, our addictive patterns are something we try our hardest to conceal from the people in our lives. We don’t want them to worry about us. We don’t want them to judge us. Very often we don’t want them to try and force us to get help, because chances are we’re not ready yet. When we’re actively trying to hide our problems with addiction from other people, there are certain behaviors we engage in to try and conceal the extent of our addictions. What are some of these concealing behaviors?
Many of us will hide evidence of our addictions by hiding alcohol or empty bottles, drug paraphernalia and anything we use to get high. We’ll literally try and remove any evidence of our drug use from our homes, cars, and offices. We’ll lie about where we’ve been. We’ll avoid talking about the issue altogether. We’ll dodge questions and change the subject. We’ll keep the people we use with, or that we’re in unhealthy relationships with, a complete secret from loved ones. We try to keep our worlds separate, preventing the people who are closest to us from obtaining any information about this other side of us, this other life we’re living, this other part of our existence that we’re so deeply ashamed of. We won’t let our friends who are addicts meet our family members and other friends. We won’t tell our loved ones we’re considering therapy, researching rehabs, or looking into support groups. We will do whatever we can to avoid facing the truth.
Because we’re trying so hard to keep our addictions a secret, we’ll find that we’re using our drugs of choice in secret, alone, often in our homes but also in bars, clubs, in our car, or even at work, anywhere we won’t be discovered by anyone we know. Drinking or using drugs alone is often a telltale sign of addiction, and not only are we isolating ourselves to keep our addictions hidden from the outside world, but we’re also compounding our feelings of shame and worthlessness. We’re feeling the sadness and anxiety of being alone with our pain so much of the time. We’re losing connections with our loved ones. We’re feeling forgotten and rejected by the people in our lives, even though it’s often us doing the isolating. When our loved ones do try to convince us to get help, we might deny vehemently that we have a problem, become defensive or deflect the issue onto them, all patterns that reflect our attempts to hide and conceal our addictions.
Working to recover means gaining as much understanding around our addictions and our addictive patterns as possible. We want to be able to understand exactly why we’ve been isolating ourselves, why we’ve been hiding the truth of who we are, why we’ve been concealing certain behaviors, and why we’ve been keeping entire parts of our lives separate for so long.