Hiding Addiction – Why Your Loved One Does It
Hiding addiction is very common. Throughout most of our lives, we encounter people every day that are struggling to hide their addictions and function normally. It’s sad when you think about it, and scary. What if it turns out that your doctor is hiding his addiction and you trust him? So you have a surgery, and you wind up with a needle that he used to inject his drugs being used to administer essential medications to you. If you’re lucky, you don’t wind up with a dangerous disease. If you’re unlucky, you could wind up with some pretty scary health problems.
It makes hiding addiction seem so much scarier, right? What if it’s your child’s bus driver, or swim instructor? Now, things get even more frightening. Okay, so let’s talk about your loved one hiding his addiction. Why does he do it? Why do you let him?
Addiction has a Shameful History
So, if you take a leap back in history, you’re going to find that at almost every stage of history, addiction has been shameful. It’s been a sign of being out of control, and not being able to “handle” things. Those who struggle with addictions are pretty notorious for making bad decisions and acting erratically.
These behaviors are often embarrassing, and when you add that to the way that addiction doesn’t stop because a person is rich, gorgeous, or successful, you’re looking at a stigma that can be really hard to escape. So, while most of us look at a person who struggles with an addiction and instantly see someone that is a “homeless junkie,” we’re often surprised to find out who really does struggle with this problem.
The truth is that being addicted causes many of us to bring up images of doing things that only those with poor moral character do. Selling one’s body for all kinds of debasement is often a result of an addiction. It offers the money necessary to get high, and most of the time, everything feels better once that addiction is taken care of for a while. Stealing and lying are also common behaviors when a person is addicted.
The thing is, not everyone who struggles with an addiction will do these things. Some people are just as moral as they were before they started using, and no matter how bad things get, they don’t do the things we imagine every addict does.
Now, when you know how others see addiction, how do you think that the person that struggles with the addiction feels when others look at him? Do you think he really wants to tell everyone in the world that he’s struggling with an addiction?
The Way Strangers React is Just the Beginning of the Shame
Now, it makes sense that nobody wants to talk about their problems with a stranger. After all, how weird is it to be standing in a line at the grocery store and have the person in front of you, who you have never met, turn around and say, “Yeah, I’m a huge meth addict.” Um… how does one react to that?
One of the things that most of us don’t realize is that people who struggle with addictions really, really want to fit in. So, they usually try to blend right in and look normal. Just like you, only maybe slightly high or drunk.
Okay, so you know that your addicted loved one is going to be trying to pass as “normal,” or not addicted. You likely know that strangers’ reactions are just the beginning of the shame that your loved one likely feels.
Need an example? How about when you find out that your loved one has gone back to using or drinking? Are you just going to shrug it off and pretend it’s no big deal? Or, are you going to let your disappointment show? Chances are, if you care at all, your face will be the first giveaway. Your speechlessness might be the next.
This Brings Us to Why Your Loved One is Hiding Addiction
It seems stupid, right? It’s not like you can’t see what your loved one is doing. It’s not like you can’t tell when he’s high or drunk. Obviously, your loved one has something going on. Does he not see it? Why does he keep hiding his addiction if you already know what’s happening?
The truth is, your loved one doesn’t want to know how you feel about what he cannot help. He doesn’t want to have to hear you tell him that he needs to quit because he’s probably scared half to death. Chances are, he didn’t want to wind up addicted. It’s not like he said to himself, “I think I’m going to become an addict today.”
How can he explain these things to you when he can’t really understand them himself?
Hiding addiction turns out to be much easier than facing it for most people, and chances are, that’s why your loved one isn’t really coming out and telling you what’s going on. Because simply, he doesn’t know how to handle this crisis. He doesn’t know what to do to make things better, but he knows he doesn’t want to stop using or drinking.
Stopping the Arguments and Starting the Healing
So, your loved one is hiding addiction, and you’re getting mad that he won’t start fixing what’s happening and it appears that you’re at an impasse. The first thing you need to know is that your loved one isn’t going to do anything healing right now. He can’t. Addiction has taken over his personality, and that means that you’re the one in the position to change things now.
In other words, stop getting mad. Stop calling your loved one out for being high all the time, and start taking control of what you can.
Sit him down, tell him you know what’s happening, but that it’s his life. Tell him you can’t control him, but that you can control how his addiction affects your life. Then lay out your boundaries. Don’t be inflexible, but be firm.
Then, tell your loved one that you’re on his side. Tell him that you want him to get better. You want him to take control of his life, too, but you can’t force him and if he’s not ready, you still love him and want to be part of his life.
Believe it or not, just by being honest, and encouraging your loved one to do the same, you’ll find that you can really start healing your heart, and your relationship.
When Your Loved One is Ready to Stop Hiding his Addiction
It might seem to take forever, but chances are, your loved one is going to decide at some point that he’s ready to start overcoming his addiction, and this is when you can really come to his aid if he wants you to.
Here’s a quick heads-up, though. When your loved one says he’s ready to start kicking his addiction, don’t expect him to keep his resolve for long. It takes time to get someone into addiction treatment, and detox can be a real bear.
Because of this, it won’t be long until your loved one is off getting high or drunk again, and before you know it, he’s back to living his life, and not thinking about getting clean at all.
You can offset much of the risk of this by having an addiction treatment option lined up when he does say he’s ready to start kicking his addiction. We can help you find a place for your loved one to begin his healthy recovery, and even get you set up with your insurance, so you have a pretty good idea of where you can encourage your loved one to go when he’s ready.
We’ll talk to your insurance company, get to know your loved one’s preferences and likes and dislikes, and get you some rough options for when it’s time to make a final decision. Once you’re finally ready, you can let your loved one make the final choice, or, you can have a place lined up and do some convincing.
Either way, we’re here for you and your addicted loved one. Hiding addiction is tough, and when it starts to look like things are falling apart, we can help you and your loved one start making sense of things again. So, why not give us a call today? Even if you’re not ready to commit, you’ll find that our caring counselors know a thing or two about addiction, and overcoming it, and being prepared for when your loved one is ready to start on the road to recovery can give you the peace of mind you’ve been wishing for.