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Signs Someone Is Hiding A Drug Problem

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

February 20, 2019

When someone develops a drug or alcohol addiction, they are likely to do everything they can to hide it. If you are concerned about a loved one and think they may have a drug addiction, it is important to watch for these signs.

Suddenly Suspicious Nature

One of the first signs that someone you love is hiding a drug problem is a sudden increase in paranoid or suspicious behavior. The reason for this change is two-fold: since they are engaging in a damaging activity, they are afraid of anyone finding out. As a result, they will feel like their addiction “shows” or is “obvious.” The feeling that people can “see” an addiction results from the person’s guilt about their behaviors.

Consequently, the person will believe that you are either judging them or trying to find evidence of their addiction. This leads to a variety of paranoid beliefs and suspicious behaviors that can seriously impact your relationship. Typical suspicious behaviors include:

  • Asking you excessive questions about your behavior
  • Changing the topic whenever any kind of drug is brought up
  • Alienating or isolating you from their life
  • Talking about you behind your back to other people
  • Trying to turn other people against you

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Positive And Even Egotistical Conversations And Behaviors

Many people will actually try to hide their drug addiction by pretending that nothing is wrong. This is called overcompensation and psychologists have noted it in people who lack something important in their lives. Think of a man who struggles to meet women suddenly buying an expensive Porsche: he is attempting to balance the negative energy with a burst of positive energy.

When people realize they are addicted to drugs, they will often use excessive positive words and actions to show the world: “I’m okay! There’s nothing wrong here at all!” However, that simply masks the underlying problem and is likely to contribute to an increase in depression and even in drug usage. Typical “positive masking” behaviors include:

  • Buying new and expensive items
  • Starting new relationships
  • Bragging excessively about their life
  • Becoming morally judgmental of people who use drugs
  • Working out excessively
  • Trying to “show off” in a variety of ways

It’s important to understand that this behavior should be something new in the person: if behaving in this way is typical for him or her, then drug use is a much less likely culprit. You should also make sure that the person exhibits other signs of drug use, such as changing friends, losing weight, or appearing confused or “stoned.”

Trying Hard To Maintain A “Successful” Aura

It’s tempting to write off suspicious or “hiding” behaviors from a loved one who has achieved a high level of success. After all, they’ve achieved so much success in their life: what could they possibly want to do with drugs? Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case: drug addiction isn’t limited to a specific base. Often, people at the highest level of personal or corporate success find themselves trapped in an addiction.

What compels them to use? There are a wide variety of reasons, including depression, personal curiosity, or even anti-social personality disorders. Whatever the reason, they are likely hiding their addiction to ensure that their “veil of success” is never lifted. Here are some common signs that a successful person in your life is abusing drugs:

  • Regularly “working late” – Professional people with addictions often claim to be “working late” in order to find a place to score drugs or to use. It also helps isolate them from friends and family members from whom they want to keep their addiction a secret.
  • Constantly discussing finding new ways to make money – Your successful friend makes six figures a year and yet they’re constantly trying to find new ways to make money. Somehow, you make ends meet, but they struggle. Perhaps because so much of their money gets taken away from them by drug use.
  • Sudden change in friendship groups – When people start regularly abusing drugs, they often seek out friends who will use with them. Often, this is an attempt to hide their use from friends and family members.
  • Paranoia or fear when people visit their home – When someone starts abusing drugs at home, they are often afraid to invite friends or family members over because they don’t want them to discover paraphernalia.

While these behaviors could be hiding any number of things, they are most often associated with drug abuse. Remember: people who have achieved high levels of success pride themselves on it. And they most likely feel that their addiction is a form of personal failure.

Don’t Let Them Hide Forever

If you spot any of these signs in your loved one, you need to get them to find help as soon as possible. Inpatient and outpatient rehab programs can help assist them in this difficult process. However, it can be hard to get through this process on your own. If you need help and guidance, please contact us at Friendly and informative counselors will give you the hand you need to get your loved one free of their addiction.

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