"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Knowing whether someone you love has a problem with alcohol or drugs isn't as straightforward as it sounds. Despite the stereotypes of the staggering drunk or the emaciated addict, most people who overuse alcohol and drugs become adept at disguising their behavior, turning it into a secret addiction. Shame, embarrassment, and fear of consequences are powerful motivators. And in many cases, the person who's drinking too much or using drugs doesn't want to recognize or admit that he's not in control of the situation.
Los Angeles based Dr. Gregory A. Smith, M.D., Medical Director of Comprehensive Pain Relief Group, shares his Top 10 Signs of Secret Addiction that can help you see whether or not you are living with or know an addict.
1. People with secret addiction problems tend to increase the quantity and frequency of their substance of choice without showing signs of being out of control.
2. Over time, addicts develop a network of hiding places. Check under the bathroom sink -- is there a bottle hiding behind the Ajax?
3. The need for money and the desperation of addiction make everything in your home susceptible. If items like cameras and jewelry begin to disappear from your house this is a good indication of a propelled secret addiction.
4. Drinking alone before going out with friends is a big red flag.
5. Teenagers and young adults who are starting to use drugs may throw parents and teachers off the track by admitting to use of a lesser drug, like marijuana, when harder drugs are the real problem.
6. Drugs are expensive. Impaired judgment also leads many people to get in financial hot water. Bills may pile up unopened, or someone might suddenly start selling possessions on eBay when they've never done so before. If this is happening, your loved one might have a secret addiction.
7. Vodka is the drink of choice for alcoholics for one reason only: It's clear and looks just like water when poured in a glass.
8. Becoming unreliable and secretive is a trademark of the alcoholic or someone suffering from a secret addiction. They start to forget appointments, miss important events, or show up late to work or school.
9. As the secret addiction takes hold, it tends to block out other interests and activities that used to be important sources of pleasure and fulfillment. Loss of interest in friends, sports, social activities, and anything else that used to define someone can be a clue that something's not right.
10. Rapid weight loss. Weight loss is usually seen as positive in our society, so it's often overlooked as a symptom of drug abuse and a sign of a secret addiction.
If you recognize any of these signs, it may be time to sit down with the person affected and discuss their secret addiction or seek help from an addiction specialist.