THIS ARTICLE IS NOT MEANT TO BE USED AS A GUIDE AS TO HOW TO HIDE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL AND IS ONLY MEANT TO SERVE AS INFORMATION FOR FAMILY, FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES TO IDENTIFY WARNING SIGNS!
Addiction is messy and causes chaos in a person’s life as well as for family and friends. One of the ways it disrupts a person’s life is by creating rationalisations for problem behavior. Alcohol and drugs may destroy a person’s life yet the individual will continue to engage in the destructive activity. Attempts to rationalise the irrational are part of the deception of substance use which seems like it provides an escape or a way to cope but really just creates more pain in its wake for both the addict and the friends and family around them.
Mental Challenge of Addiction
People who struggle with addiction may try to justify their behaviour in the mind which is where things can fall apart. Excuses are made and rather than seeing their addictive behaviour as the cause of the problem, the person is more likely to see it as a way to cope. Denial and cognitive dissonance may give the person with an addiction the ability to explain away behaviour. This keeps people trapped in addiction for weeks, months and years at a time.
Justifications for using drugs or alcohol may sound logical to the person but typically the following ideas are what keeps a person trapped inside addiction:
- Alcohol or drugs give the ability to cope with stress in life
- Problems in life are not caused by substance abuse, just bad luck or other people
- People who complain don’t know how to have fun
- People who do not drink or do drugs are boring
- Substance abuse is a sign that someone is creative and special
- People who complain are the real source of the problems
- People in recovery are not helpful and do not understand substance abuse or me
- The risks of using drugs or alcohol are greatly exaggerated and aren’t that bad
- Even if addictive behaviour destroys lives, the person believes he or she is the exception and won’t effect them
Addiction and Denial
Denial is a defense mechanism for coping with or explaining away behaviour. It means the patient refuses to face the reality of the situation. Human beings can use denial to protect the ego from having to confront its own mistakes and downfalls, which may seem like a good thing for a time. However, this does not fool anyone and is just a way for the unconscious mind to deal with uncomfortable realities. Short term denial may be useful but long term denial can have grave consequences, particularly for individuals with addiction and those around them.
Why Do Addicts Hide Their Drugs Or Alcohol?
Not only are certain drugs illegal to have or sell hence why they hide drugs but one of the most disturbing aspects of dealing with an addict is the lengths that person will go in order to hide their drug use. It’s difficult to see a loved one behave in a manner where they’re concealing a major part of their lifestyle from those closest to them. Even though it is part of the disease of addiction, it is very challenging for family members and friends to deal with.
Anyone who has become close to an addict is all too familiar with their pattern of lying. Hiding drugs is part of this pattern, and it happens for several reasons.
- To Hide Their Addiction From Others
One of the outcomes of addiction is that those affected often lie. They lie to others about the fact they’re addicted, what they’re using, how much they use, how much they spend to support their habit and where they buy their drug of choice, where they use it and where they keep it. With lying being such an ingrained part of the disease, it makes sense that they would take steps to hide their addiction from others. If they’re “not using” drugs or alcohol, then it would logically follow that they would have no reason to have drugs or alcohol in their possession.
- To Hide the Severity of the Addiction
In some cases, a person may have revealed to their others that they’ve experimented with drugs or alcohol. They may not be forthcoming if the problem has become more severe and they’ve slid down the slippery slope into addiction. Hiding a drug or alcohol stash is a way of hiding the magnitude of their addiction and avoiding the consequences of using drugs or alcohol.
- As a Type of Self-Denial
No one grows up thinking they will ever become an addict. It’s not something anyone aspires to, but unfortunately, it’s the reality in many homes. Hiding drugs or alcohol is a way for the addict to “put away” and “hide” the problem. They avoid having to deal with the fact that they had hopes, dreams and aspirations that had nothing to do with getting high or drunk and being someone influenced and controlled by a chemical substance.
Once addiction takes over, the urge to use is a compulsion. An addict may tell themselves or others that they can stop any time they want to, but this is not true. They may hide their drugs or alcohol as a way of convincing to themselves that they can do without them while trying to convince others that what they are telling them is the truth, even though it isn’t.
Addicts are highly skilled liars. Naturally, this includes lying to themselves about the severity of their addiction. They fail to understand the consequences of their continued drug or alcohol use. The truth is something an addict won’t be able to admit to themselves or others until they are ready to stop and get into treatment.
COMMON DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
When addicts are looking for hiding places for drugs, you should be aware that if your loved one is involved with drugs, they will likely have other items used to administer the substances as well. If the idea that a family member or friend is involved with drugs is on your radar, be on the lookout for the following things that they may be using as part of their habit:
- Inhalation Tools
People who are experimenting with inhalable drugs may have tools to roll their own joints or have a pipe in their possession. Look for tobacco rolling papers, as well as foil from cigarette packs, cardboard liners from paper towel or toilet paper rolls and masking tape or rolls of tin foil. These items are commonly associated with cocaine/crack cocaine, heroin and other substances that can be smoked and disposed of.
Other items that may indicate that a loved one is inhaling drugs would be finding glass or metal pipes when they don’t have reason to have them. Finding cigars, which can be used to fill with marijuana to make a blunt, or e-cigarettes, which may be used for smoking marijuana concentrate, are possible signs of drug use. Some addicts will buy glass pipes and try to explain that they like the design but don’t use drugs.
- Snorting Tools
Addicts whose drug of choice is a snortable substance, such as cocaine, may have small mirrors or pieces of glass, razor blades or old bank style cards, lighters, and small spoons among their possessions. Rolled-up bills, paper tubes, notes of money or short plastic straws are another sign that your family member is snorting something.
- Injection Tools
The obvious tools used by someone who is injecting drugs would be needles, syringes or spoons. They may be kept in a small container or a kit, made of wood, metal, plastic or fabric. The kit would need to be small enough to be portable since the user would need to find a place where they can be alone for a few minutes to prepare and inject their substance of choice.
The kit could contain a length of rubber band or other object to act as a tourniquet, to allow the addict to find a vein to inject the drug in, spoons for heating the drugs, a lighter, sachet or pack of ascorbic acid or citric acid to dissolve their drugs in the spoon and needles and syringes and alcohol wipes to clean the injection site before injecting.
- Pill/ TabletsIngestion Items
A person who is taking pills or medication to get high may not need specific tools for this purpose. They may have a container holding pills of different sizes or colors. There may be more than one pill or medication inside. A prescription bottle, box or box with someone else’s name on it is another red flag that your loved one has a drug problem. Quantities of boxes or tablet blister packs may also indicate that someone has an addiction to pills, over the counter or prescribed medications.
WHERE DO ADDICTS HIDE THEIR DRUGS
Addicts are very resourceful when it comes to finding places to put their stash or bottles. The following list includes common and not-so-common spots or places to hide drugs or alcohol.
Hiding Drugs In Personal Items
- Small amounts of drugs can be placed in a highlighter in the space between its nub and the tip of the cap.
- Some users hide cocaine inside pen barrels. This part of the pen can also be used to snort the drug.
- Lip-gloss and lipstick containers can conceal ecstasy tablets, LSD or small amounts of cocaine or other drugs. It’s always assumed that these containers carry the product as advertised, so very few people would think to open the cap to check.
- Individually wrapped sanitary napkins can conceal small amounts of drugs in a woman’s purse. The drugs can be placed in a baggie inside the unused pad, and the pad is rewrapped. If the pads are carried in a small pouch inside the purse, the one concealing the drugs can simply be tucked away. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would ever go to the trouble of opening individual feminine hygiene products looking for drugs.
- Sweet or chewing gum wrappers may not contain the product they were originally intended to protect. The wrappers can be carefully removed and the original item discarded, only to be replaced with small amounts of drugs. Once replaced, the ends of the wrappers can be glued or folded closed.
- Belt buckles can hold a small amount of drugs, and some shops (both brick and mortar and online) carry specialized merchandise designed for this purpose.
- Sock drawers are another place where people tend to hide drugs, either inside a pair of socks or somewhere in the confusion of the drawer itself.
- Drug stashes can be rolled up and placed inside pairs of disused shoes. Corners of shelves in closets are not looked at or cleaned often and make good hiding spots.
Hiding Drugs Around the House
- Drugs can be wrapped in plastic and placed underneath toilet tanks to avoid detection.
- Vents and cold air return ducts present nooks where users can put their drugs. They could also remove the covers from light switches and outlet plates, and hide drugs there.
- The undersides of dresser drawers are another often-overlooked stash storage. It’s possible to tape a small bag of drugs to the underside of the drawer if it’s flat enough. If there is a space between the bottom drawer of a dresser and its frame, this is a spot where drugs can be hidden and no one would think to look.
- Video game consoles generally have hollow parts in them that make good places to hide drugs. Check out old controllers and remote controls that tend to sit neglected; the unused battery compartment is a handy spot to stash drugs.
- Check for holes in mattresses and under box springs where an addict could conceal drugs. Stuffed animals can also be used for this purpose. A teenager vehemently attached to a particular “stuffy” may have an ulterior motive for holding onto the toy.
- Drugs can be hidden behind pictures and posters on walls. Very small amounts could be placed inside a picture frame displayed on a table or desk.
- If the ceiling tiles are removable, look for points of access where your loved one can get close enough to access a bulkhead or a corner where drugs could be stashed. Unfinished parts of your home or their living space can be home to disused containers and would make convenient places to put drugs.
- Consider items on your family member’s dresser or desk that are around longer than what should make sense. For example, if you see a drinks can, water bottle or a Thermos container that never seems to move, this could be a sign that they’re concealing drugs in these containers. Alternatively, they could just be a poor housekeeper.
- If your family member or loved one suddenly becomes interested in having books around them, consider that there are companies that sell home safes made to look like reading material. They’re not meant to conceal drugs and paraphernalia, but an addict could use them to conceal these items. A creative and very patient addict could also take the time to hollow out a book to stash drugs inside its pages.
- Bottles normally used to store water, juice, fruit punch or drinks, soda, mouthwash or cough medicine can conceal alcohol.
- Airing cupboards, towels in the airing cupbsheds, medicine cabinets and empty bottles such as orange juice bottles) can be used to hide alcohol.
Hiding Drugs Outside the Home
- Cars present numerous opportunities for addicts to hide drugs. They can be stashed under the hood, under floor mats and in the area under the seats or the dashboard. Check older model cars for the ashtrays in the backseats; these small spaces can be used to stash a small amount of drugs. Look for spots where the car’s carpet is detached from the body of the vehicle to make a space where a baggie of drugs can hide.
- Nooks and crannies outside your home can also present opportunities for hiding drugs. Consider opportunities along your family member’s route to school where they can stash drugs or alcohol. Abandoned lots or buildings present multiple places can easily conceal a small container.
- Look around your own garden for places where something can be concealed. If you have a plastic composter with a small door that can be raised up to remove compost that is ready for use as well the large top opening, consider that your family member could place drugs or alcohol into a plastic container and conceal them in your compost bin. You’ll also want to look at planters and the bottom of outdoor ornaments for holes that could be filled with baggies or bottles of drugs or alcohol.
If your family member or loved one suddenly starts making changes in their personal care items, it could be a sign that they are using drugs or alcohol. For example, if they start wearing long sleeved tops frequently to cover injection marks, this could indicate a substance abuse issue. Someone who starts wearing sunglasses to cover up their red eyes or that their pupils are either dilated or have shrunk to pinpoints when it doesn’t fit the amount of light in the room or outdoors may be involved with drugs or alcohol.
Similarly, a person who is suddenly using mouthwash, breath sprays or mints more often than usual may be really trying to take care of their oral health or trying to cover up a problem with alcohol or something else they are taking by mouth.
Also be aware of what is thrown into the rubbish bin such as needle packaging, empty bottles, blister packaging or medicine boxes.
A person will not seek help until he or she is ready to get help. When that person is finally ready, he or she will be able to see the illogical reasoning of their addiction for what it is and seek to move forward away from addiction towards recovery. You can find your nearest drug and alcohol service on our help and support page.