During my years of alcohol abuse, there were many phases that I went through—ups and downs and all around. Like everyone in life, we have our good days and bad, but for the addict, the lows are excruciatingly low and the highs are astoundingly high. There is not a balance or medium that ever comes to rest.
It took me 17 years of this rollercoaster for me to come to terms with the fact that I was a problem drinker. Until then, I always hid my excessive drinking. From my teenage years, I would hide the alcohol in the trunk of an old car that only I had a key to. When I would arrive home polluted, I would tear off a piece of my car air freshener and put it under my tongue and rub it on my shirt. Later on, in my years of addiction, I would sneak into the bathroom and pull a bottle hidden under the sink and hope that there was enough left to get me through until the liquor store opened again.
Here are the top 3 tactics I employed to hide the fact that I was a problem drinker, sometimes even from myself.
1. Micromanaging Alcohol’s Effects
During my active addiction, I not only worked to hide the alcohol itself but also to hide the effects of it on myself. I learned to watch my speech and steady my walk. I learned to watch what I said and when I needed to just walk away from everyone else. When talking to someone I would cover my mouth to direct my breath away or face away from them when talking. When someone would get too close I would hold my breath until they were a safe distance away. And although I tried to keep all these things in check I am sure that there were not too many fooled. And how dare anyone, well-meaning or not, ever have the audacity to ask if I had been drinking.
2. Stowing Away Empty Bottles
The empty bottles that were accumulating in my life were an endless mess. I knew that if I put all of them in my household trash that my neighbors within a radius of three miles would all be able to point to where the town drunk lived. So I had them stashed everywhere: the bathroom, old suitcases, under the bed, garage, anywhere I could think of that would give me peace of mind that they wouldn’t be found. My desk drawer at work would have one or two and whenever I thought I had enough time with no one around I would gather them up in trash bags and find a trash dumpster somewhere. This is where beer drinking can really be an inconvenience and more than once I was moved to liquor just to cut down on the empty cans and bottles.
3. Strategically Dispersing My Spending
Another problem that I commonly ran into was purchasing all the alcohol. I did not want anyone—and I mean anyone—to know that I had a problem. So, I would pull out cash for spending so that there was nothing that would cause concern on a bank statement. I would buy from three different liquor stores to keep the owners and cashiers from being concerned. I hid receipts, took any spare change I could find laying around. Eventually, I stopped paying bills and used the money for alcohol. I could never hold on to anything of much value, I would buy things and sell them off for less just to get my hands on quick cash that would be unaccounted for.
An active addict is a physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted person. They need everything to seem normal on the outside and not give anyone a reason to question their behavior. However, life on the other side of active addiction is peaceful and there is much more time that can be used productively instead of all the waste. These are just small examples of tactics used by myself and other addicts alike.
If you are an active addict or know of a loved one that is, seek professional help. Life is beautiful don’t waste another day.