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Veiled Cry for Help: Your Loved One’s Private Addiction

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Veiled Cry for Help: Your Loved One’s Private Addiction

There are few things that raise the heart to the throat quicker than being confronted with your loved one’s private suffering. Those hidden bottles you keep finding around the house. The quiet glazed-over eyes belying that he is, once again, high at dinner. But he won’t open up about what’s wrong. By keeping the stress close to themselves, addicts show that their pain is not your burden to bear.

Private Addiction: A Veiled Cry for Help

Honey, it’s not an issue. I’m going to AA.
We’ve already talked about this.
Please get off my back.

Later that night, you find a new bottle tucked away in the back of the closet.

High Functioning Addicts

Denial is powerful. On the surface, every addict responds differently when their private use is “discovered” by a concerned loved one. Whether it’s anger, annoyance, defensiveness, or something else, each of these reactions are usually a mask for one primal emotion: fear.

“Addiction is a crutch, not a cure.”

They are scared of having their stress fix taken away. No matter how destructive it has become. Addicts are, by definition, reliant on their drug of choice to function; however, the degree of need is variable. Those with a high degree of function tend to develop a compelling case of denial.

No matter how well-formed this argument becomes over the years, it eludes a simple truth. Addiction is a crutch, not a cure.

Denial: The Illusion of Control

Unfortunately, the higher functioning a person is, the less likely they are to think they need help or even have a problem to begin with. Forget about admitting anything out loud. They won’t even acknowledge the problem internally.

This denial is not malicious. It’s a defense mechanism that allows addicts to maintain the illusion of control, and it’s very understandable. Serious issues elude quick solutions that are healthy. Think: stress at work, death in the family, a chronic mood disorder, healing from a serious injury. Such overwhelming problems require effective coping skills and/or professional help. When these solutions are not readily available, substance abuse presents itself as a much simpler solution.

Don’t Be Manipulated

Cue the illusions.
The minimizing.
The rationalization.

This ground of discussion is well-trodden for many loved ones, and after a while, their addict’s illusion of control can even seem real.

Here’s why it’s not:

  • Private Means Hiding

     The compulsion to hide means it’s already a problem. Your loved one has acknowledged past consequences, and is choosing to shirk rather than get help.

  • Clouded Judgment

     Human choice is not a simple matter of “yes or no.” Drugs and alcohol alter brain chemistry to the point that addicts can no longer see their use objectively.

  • It’s Substitution

    If your loved one is using substances to alleviate pain or stress, it is in lieu of healthy coping strategies. These necessary skills would be presented to them in treatment.

Raising the Bottom

There is a “rock bottom” stereotype in our culture that addicts are dysfunctional dropouts who have given up on life. No job, no school, no will to succeed or get better. But this is far from the case.

It is very normal for addicts to be fully functional, hold steady jobs, and even support their families. These factors do not preclude a substance abuse problem. More often than not, they actually function as a barrier to treatment. After all, does the guy who just got a promotion at work REALLY need to get help for his drinking problem?

The answer is yes. “Raising the bottom” is a common discussion point in early treatment. It’s what allows high functioning addicts to accept they have a problem.

Private Users Still Need Help

People actively suffering from addiction rarely seek help on their own. It’s usually spouses, parents, and other close loved ones who initiate their addict’s journey of recovery. Remember: if your loved one feels overwhelmed enough to keep their pain private, they’re going to need your help finding treatment.

Substance abuse is always a cry for help, even the person tries to keep it private. If you think your addicted loved one is ready, contact our admissions staff for detox: 855-737-7363

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, For Loved Ones