Over the past decade, levels of alcohol abuse among women aged 30 to 44 have doubled, and levels of prescription drug abuse have skyrocketed by 400 percent. Substance abuse devolves into addiction for many of these women, some of whom are the mothers of young children.
Addicted women are less likely than men to seek help for their addictions. They may feel that seeking treatment will interfere with their ability to keep their households running smoothly. They may fear the consequences of asking for help more than the consequences of addiction. As a result, these women are adept at hiding their addictions, sometimes to the point where no one is the wiser until tragedy strikes.
But how do addicted mothers hide their substance abuse? They may use drugs and alcohol only in secret or when alone, take measures to hide their substances of choice, or find ways to use discreetly even in plain sight. For women who abuse prescription drugs, hiding a habit can be as easy as not telling anyone how many pills they really take.
Why Mothers Abuse Substances
Mothers often abuse substances to cope with stress and anxiety and relax, or to reward themselves for their hard work. Many of today’s mothers struggle to balance childcare and household responsibilities with demanding jobs. These women may feel an enormous pressure to tackle every task of their professional and personal lives without asking for help or admitting that they’re overwhelmed.
How Addicted Mothers Hide Their Problems
Mothers in the grip of addiction may hide their problem by using their substance of choice only in secret or when alone. These women are careful never to become intoxicated in front of others or to allow themselves to use or drink to excess where others can see. An alcoholic mother, for example, may have only one or two drinks when out with friends, but will drink heavily when home alone during the day or at night after her spouse and children are in bed.
Some addicted women may devise ways to use drugs or alcohol in front of others while escaping detection. They may drink vodka, believing that it’s harder to detect on the breath. They may put clear alcohol into sports bottles or wine into coffee mugs in order to disguise it. During parties or other social events, an addicted mother may retire to the privacy of the restroom to drink or take drugs.
At home, an addicted mother may hide drugs or alcohol around the house in order to maintain a constant supply while concealing her level of consumption. Creative hiding places for drugs and alcohol include inside the toilet tank, above ceiling tiles, in a hollowed-out mattress or behind books on a shelf.
Because mothers are so adept at hiding their addictions, they can fly under the radar even with their own spouses and children. They don’t ask for help because they fear losing their families, homes and careers if their addictions become known, and some may feel that their family and professional responsibilities are more important than seeking treatment.
Addicted mothers hide their substance abuse by using only when alone, or camouflaging their use when others are around. They often hide their addictions so well that others never suspect them of being addicts. With help, however, these women can — and often do — break free of addiction to lead happy lives.