9 Signs someone is trying to hide their addiction from you

9 Signs someone is trying to hide their addiction from you.

You’ve been diligently searching because you’re concerned that someone you care deeply about might be fighting a hidden battle against substance use. It’s a serious matter; you’re determined to find clarity amidst the uncertainty.

Whether they have one addiction or many, there are treatment options. There is even a treatment for dual diagnosis for those with co-occurring mental health struggles and substance dependence.

People with a substance abuse problem often strive to conceal their addiction. It can be challenging to determine what is going on. But there are signs you can watch out for. Here are 9 signs that may help you uncover if someone you know is trying to hide their addiction from you.

pills and drugs through on a red table

Watching for Help Signals

Many people don’t understand why or how someone could get addicted to drugs. Some mistakenly believe that those who use drugs lack morals or willpower. They think it’s just a matter of choosing to stop.

When in reality, drug addiction is a complicated illness. Quitting isn’t just about having good intentions or willpower. Drugs alter the brain, making it tough to stop, even for those who genuinely want to stop. Addiction isn’t merely a choice, but a disease that demands treatment, and those in need will throw out subtle SOS signals like the following.

  1. Alteration in Normal Habits

Addictions often manifest through changes in habits and unusual behaviour. For instance, some substances can affect appetite, leading to irregular eating patterns. Exercise routines may also shift suddenly. Significant changes in eating, exercise, or work/personal activities could be signs of a struggle with drugs or alcohol.

  1. Decreased Interests

People grappling with addiction often experience a decline in their interests, even if the activity or hobby is one they once cherished. These aspects of life may no longer hold the same allure. This shift occurs as addiction takes hold, reducing their ability to get pleasure from these passions.

  1. Finding Drug-related Items

One of the most obvious signs of substance use is the presence of paraphernalia. If you’re worried about a loved one using drugs, familiarise yourself with everyday drug-related items:

  • Pipes
  • Syringes
  • Lighters (when they don’t have an obvious use for one)
  • Bongs
  • Razor blades
  • Burnt spoons
  • Scratched glass or mirrors

Some seemingly unrelated items, like an excess of eyewash or cold/sinus/cough medicine, can suggest substance use as well.

  1. Fluctuating Moods

Unpredictable shifts in mood without any triggers is a warning sign of something under the surface, like substance abuse. Stimulants, like methamphetamine, for example, can exacerbate mood swings. These stimulants often lead to heightened agitation and irritability during withdrawal.

Changes from normal behaviour may mean there are more profound issues, such as addiction. Unusual behaviour or mood swings may mean you need to look for further signs.

  1. Isolation and Secrecy

People hiding substance use can become more secretive, indicating potential addiction. Despite feeling ashamed, they may be unable to stop due to addiction. If a loved one spends excessive time alone and avoids answering questions, they may be struggling with addiction.

  1. Noticeable Withdrawal Signs

Withdrawal symptoms may occur when someone stops using substances. These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Clammy skin
  • Depression
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle pain
  • Profuse sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting or feeling sick to their stomach

Concealing these symptoms is challenging, but the severity of these signs often matches the seriousness of the addiction.

  1. Physical Clues

Substance use can manifest in physical symptoms. These symptoms could appear as follows (in alphabetical order):

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Rapid weight changes
  • Skin sores
  • Visible track marks

These signs may emerge unexpectedly and without warning. If you notice these symptoms, it may also be time to check for other clues.

  1. Social Withdrawal

Those struggling with addiction may avoid family and friends to hide their substance use or withdrawal symptoms. Prioritising substances over relationships can lead to isolation. For example, someone addicted to alcohol might shun social gatherings to conceal their drinking habits.

  1. Unusual Conduct

Erratic behaviour is often a glaring sign of addiction. Pay attention to any erratic actions, as severe cases of addiction can pose serious risks. Distancing yourself and seeking immediate help if behaviour becomes violent is crucial. Some people with both addiction and anxiety might use drugs to cope, needing professional help.


In your search to find out if a loved one is struggling with substance use, these nine signs someone may be hiding an addiction should help. If you believe someone does have an addiction, take the time to identify the signs and get help.

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