Shame and Secrecy Surrounding Addiction and Addiction Treatment
Almost anyone who has become addicted to a drug will try to hide it. There are a few reasons why. Understanding the motivation for both the use and the hiding and denial can be very useful when trying to help them get addiction treatment.
Shame is nearly always a factor. Someone who has become addicted is likely to be ashamed, even toward other friends who use but seem to have more of a handle on their habit. When it comes to the people in their life who don’t use drugs at all, though, the shame is especially profound.
Secrecy is one of the first behaviors to look for. The secrecy of someone trying to hide a drug habit goes beyond the usual need for privacy we all have. Secrecy or defensiveness about where they have been and who they were with can be a red flag.
Nosiness might annoy someone with nothing to hide, but they usually won’t get angry and refuse to answer or shut you down entirely. The shame they feel and the desire to protect their use motivates the addicted person’s need for secrecy. Thankfully, shame is one of the things a drug addiction treatment center will focus on in treatment because it is an integral part of the addiction life.
Other Behaviors and Signs Addiction Treatment May Be Needed
Addiction has a way of reordering a person’s priorities. Because drugs directly affect the brain’s pleasure centers, they knock healthy behaviors and needs further down the list of priorities. An extreme example of this is choosing drugs before paying for the roof over their head or even food. But behaviors inspired by addiction are usually apparent long before things get that desperate if you know what to look for.
A person caught up in addiction will almost always have unexplained money problems sooner or later. They come up short for rent or utility payments.
Often seem to have their bank account overdrawn, even with a steady source of income. School and job performance are nearly always affected too. You may notice them calling in late or missing classes or meetings, and poor job performance.
Relationships are inevitably impacted by addiction as well. A person who uses drugs regularly will eventually put distance between themselves and anyone who doesn’t use them. They drift away from old and dear friends and become more insular around loved ones.
New “friends” appear who the addicted person isn’t eager to introduce to you. Aside from behavior, though, there are physical signs of addiction that are helpful to be aware of.
The following can be signs of opiate abuse:
- Excessive drowsiness or “nodding out” at inappropriate times.
- “Pinned” pupils and glassy eyes.
- Unusually nasally sounding voice, as if the throat is too relaxed.
- Absently scratching itches (much more often than you’d expect).
Here are some physical signs that can indicate amphetamine or stimulant abuse:
- Nervous energy and facial tics.
- Unusually talkative or anxious.
- Sleeping at odd hours or going for days without sleep.
- Picking at the skin and biting or cutting fingernails much too short.
Any marked changes in a person’s health or appearance should be cause for concern. Especially if they occur in concert with suspect behavior and actions, trust your instincts. Learn about denial and codependency to maintain your objectivity and avoid becoming part of the problem.
How to Help
The first thing to do is establish a goal. If someone you care about is in trouble with drugs, they will need addiction treatment.
Your ultimate goal should be to get them to a drug addiction treatment center. You may ask, where do I even begin? There is a lot to consider, but the first step is communication.
If you are going to approach someone who may have a drug problem, it’s very important to first establish trust. The last thing you want to do is make rash accusations or appear judgmental or cross.
That’s sure to shut things down in a hurry. Try to temper your own emotions and focus on gaining trust and just listening at first. Read How to Help Your Addicted Friend for more information.