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Tricks High-functioning Alcoholics Use to Hide their Addiction

A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who appears to have her life together despite being secretly addicted to alcohol. Someone with a family and a good job has a lot of incentives to keep her drinking a secret. She may fear that if her addiction comes to light it will hurt her career, embarrass her socially, or make people think she’s a bad mother. As a result, she will often go to great lengths to hide her addiction and as an otherwise reasonable and competent person, she may do a very convincing job of it. An addict can be very resourceful when it comes to protecting her addiction, so there’s really no limit to the possible tactics, but here are some common ones.

Switching to vodka. Vodka is clear and doesn’t have a strong smell so you can mix it in pretty much anything without drawing attention. It could be in her morning coffee or in a water bottle and no one would ever notice unless he took a drink.

Priming. It doesn’t look good to go to an office party or dinner party and drink twice as much as everyone else. On the other hand, what are you going to do–not drink twice as much as everyone else? Of course not. Closet alcoholics will often have a few drinks before showing up so they can appear to drink moderately in company. It’s also likely they will keep drinking when they get home.

Working late. This is a common tactic to hide drinking from one’s family. It doesn’t look suspicious for an ambitious person to spend extra hours at work, so it’s a convenient excuse. This may also take the form of forgetting something at the office and having to go get it, having a work emergency, or a late meeting.

Committing to the deception. As The Prestige showed us, the real secret to deception is total commitment. Most people don’t consider the possibility of certain behaviors simply because they seem like too much trouble for anyone to go to. But addiction will drive people to lengths most people wouldn’t dream of, such as driving an hour to buy drugs somewhere they won’t be recognized.

Blaming others. This tactic is common to most addicts. Things start going wrong, and instead of blaming the addiction, they see others as causing them problems. For a socially deft person with a respectable job, this tactic can be very effective. Someone who is used to delegating and holding people accountable might have a lot of practice making you feel like you let her down.

Running errands. Busy people are busy, so it’s not surprising when they have to go out frequently and don’t stay in one place. Having this kind of flexibility makes it easy to find moments to steal drinks.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.