When a person becomes addicted to alcohol or another drug, they will be compelled to use the substance frequently. This means they will have a powerful urge to be near the substance, even in places where using or possessing it is forbidden. To accomplish this, a person may need to find creative hiding places for the substance. It’s not uncommon for people to make or purchase devices for hiding drugs in plain sight.
Signs that My Loved One is Hiding Drugs
Changes in attitude and behavior are often the most obvious signs that someone has developed an addiction. An action or decision that is commonplace for one person could be a significant warning sign for someone else. With that understanding, here are some potential signs that your loved one is secretly abusing substances and hiding drugs:
- They frequently appear to be nervous or on edge.
- They are spending increasing amounts of time alone.
- You suspect they are not being honest with you about their activities and whereabouts.
- They demonstrate significant changes in mood or energy within a brief period of time.
- They are sleeping much more or much less than usual.
- They have had unexplained financial problems.
- They don’t seem to care about their appearance or personal hygiene.
- They have begun to frequently miss school or work.
- They don’t want you to handle certain items or objects, or go into certain areas of the house, if they’re not around.
Where Do People Hide Drugs?
There is virtually no limit to the places a person may hide alcohol or other addictive substances. Depending on the severity of their addiction, a person may try to have access to drugs at work, at home, in their car, or wherever else they frequently spend time.
Here are a few common objects, devices, and locations people may use when their objective is hiding drugs in plain sight:
Many objects are specifically designed to hold (and hide) drugs. If you use a term like “drug secret stash” to search Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or other popular online marketplaces, you may be stunned to discover the wide array of drug hiding devices that are available for purchase.
Here are just a few of the many devices that people use to hide their drugs:
- Adapted pens, highlighters, and markers
- Hairbrushes with hollowed-out handles
- Necklaces with pendants that can be opened
- Fake key fobs and lightbulbs
- Teddy bears or other plush figures with removeable heads
The devices in the previous section are items that are not typically used for storage. Another common way to hide drugs is to use a container that was designed to hold something else. In some cases, this is simply a matter of placing the drugs into an emptied box, can, or bottle. In other cases, counterfeit containers are developed with secret spaces for hiding drugs.
The following can be used as drug hiding containers:
- Soda cans and soup cans
- Shaving cream cans
- Hairspray bottles
- Cans or bottles for cleaning supplies
- Roll-on or gel deodorant containers
The glove box and the space below the driver’s seat are perhaps the two most obvious places to check if you think your loved one is hiding drugs in their car. Other common locations include the console between the two front seats, the sunglass holder, the ashtrays (if the car is of a certain vintage), and the trunk. The trunk obviously provides less immediate access, but if it contains a first aid kit, a toolbox, a spare tire, and other objects and devices, it can be difficult to search thoroughly.
Places in the Home
A house can offer a seemingly limitless number of options for hiding drugs in plain sight. Here are a few of the myriad places a person might hide drugs in their home:
- The back of cupboards
- The refrigerator or freezer
- Inside cereal boxes
- Underneath the sink
- Inside the tank on the back of the toilet
- Above ceiling tiles
- In dresser or desk drawers
- In hollowed-out sections of a wall, behind a picture or poster
- Underneath the bed
- Under loosed floorboards
- In a closet, including in the pocket of a jacket or other item of clothing
How to Confront My Loved One About Their Drug Paraphernalia
Confronting a person about hiding drugs or possessing drug paraphernalia is rarely easy. But it is often necessary. Presenting clear, irrefutable evidence that someone has been secretly abusing drugs can be a vital step in the effort to convince them they need treatment.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for this conversation:
- Do your research. The more you learn about addiction, the better you will understand what your loved one is going through. They need to be accountable for their behaviors, but they may also be struggling with a disease that has robbed them of their ability to be in full control of their life.
- Have a purpose for this conversation. If your loved one has a substance use disorder (the clinical term for addiction), they likely need professional help. Use this discussion as a way to get them to agree to enter treatment.
- Approach the conversation from a place of hope and compassion. Yes, your loved one has lied to (or at least misled) you. Yes, you’re angry about that. But if you lead with accusations and recriminations, you are likely to be met with denial or hostility. Once the conversation devolves into an argument, it is far less likely to have a successful outcome.
- Remind your loved one that you are on their side. Share your concerns and express your fears as calmly as you can. Reiterate that you want your loved one to be healthy.
- Be specific about the problem. Focus on the substance abuse and the deceit. Show them the drugs, the hiding places, and/or the paraphernalia that you discovered.
- Be prepared for pushback. Even if you are calm and respectful, there is a decent chance that your loved one will react negatively. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into an exchange of insults. Remain focused on the topic at hand.
- Get help for yourself. Make an appointment with a therapist, counselor, or spiritual advisor. Consult with your family doctor. Talk to a trusted friend. Your loved one isn’t the only one who is impacted by their substance abuse. You have been affected, too. Don’t ignore your own needs.
Contact Our Drug Rehab in Palm Springs, California
If someone that you care about has become addicted to alcohol or another drug, Phoenix Rising is here to help. Our drug rehab in Palm Springs, California, offers a full continuum of personalized services for adults whose lives have been disrupted by addiction and certain co-occurring mental health concerns. Contact us today to learn more.