The dangers of secret keeping in Addiction
Family secrets in addiction
Families living with addiction, especially drug addiction or alcohol addiction are often families who keep secrets. Sharing your life and home with someone who is struggling with addiction causes severe strain to the entire family. A common defence mechanism is to avoid the problem, this avoidance creates a pattern of secret-keeping that only complicates the problem. The energy it takes to keep addiction a secret and the isolation it promotes affect the family in many ways.Addiction thrives in the darkest corners; places where the only hope that remains is that everyone will stay silent, and the addiction will eventually fade away. We keep our loved one’s secret addiction from friends and other family members.
Secrets keep maintains denial
Addicts hide what they use, how much they use, when they use, how they use, how they get their substance, how much money they’re spending on it and who they’re hurting in the process. Keeping this information hidden can become a full-time job.They will blame those closest to them for their behaviour and avoid responsibility by manipulating the truth.Many have difficulty accepting that their substance use has gotten out of hand and spiralled into a full-blown addiction. Hiding their addiction from others enables them to remain in denial about their use.
Families are afraid of the stigma
Those in active addiction are worried about the prejudice that surrounds addiction and do not want to be treated differently by others.This thinking could extend to the rest of the family, many people still mistakenly believe that it is a weakness, not a disease (if the person really wanted to stop, he or she could do so at once). Family members that don’t want to be stigmatized will keep the addiction a secret to protect their reputation.
Secrets-keeping because of shame
Families also keep addiction a secret due to the fear of exposing their own shame. They believe that if anyone found out, their world would fall apart and their lives would be forever changed. This fear is based on the false belief that they are somehow defective or deficient as a family because this has happened to them. The individual or family develops a mask to hide behind. Shame-based families live with the rule “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel” as a way to deny the shame they feel.
Secrets keep you sick
While loved ones may only see the negatives of revealing the secret, the truth is, bottling up the truth is a defence mechanism. The anxiety, stress and chaos of addiction become such a large part of daily live, they develop a way to function by avoiding exposure of the problem.Keeping secrets doesn’t just make things worse, it keeps you and your loved one sick. The longer you hide their addiction, the longer they will continue to drink or use drugs. Keeping the secret allows the addiction to spiral further and further from the truth – and from help.
Breaking the silence
Addiction is a manipulative and cunning disease that thrives in secrecy. Start by breaking your silence, harness your inner strength and talk about what’s going on. You are not alone. Continuing to bury your loved one’s addiction isn’t healthy for you, for the person using, or for any member of your family. Addiction shouldn’t be your family’s secret.
The family needs help
Crossroads Recovery Centres provide family workshops and support groups, you can learn the best approaches to dealing with an addicted lovedone and how to look after yourself in the relationship. There you can also gain the support from other parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents and friends of addicted loved ones. This support is vital to following through with the changes you need to make, and it can send a powerful message to your loved one.
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
- On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.Johan BRead more
- I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!Carla SRead more
- "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."Angelique JRead more