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Closet Alcoholic

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You drink after work each night to take the edge off of your long, hard days. You make sure to hide your alcohol in an opaque canister and drink it on your way home. Your partner has expressed concern about your drinking before and you don’t want to worry them. It just helps you feel better – it’s not that big of a deal.

If you’ve ever intentionally taken steps to hide alcohol or alcohol consumption, you might be a closeted alcoholic. What makes an alcoholic “closeted?” Is it a bad thing? How can you spot if a loved one is hiding their alcohol use from you?

Here at Pacific Sands, we get questions like this a lot. It’s not uncommon for clients to come to us because of another loved one’s concerns. Here in California, drinking is fairly common. On average, California adults binge drink nearly 4 times a month. While alcohol is generally socially accepted, why do some people take the steps to hide it? Can you recover from alcohol use if you’re hiding it from others? 

We strive for a solution-focused method in our treatment program, which is the same approach we take to answer questions like these. We want to be transparent about alcohol use and how it impacts a person so you can make an informed decision about your health and well-being. Today, we’re taking a closer look at closeted alcoholism, what it is, and how someone can take steps away from it.

identifying signs of a closet alcoholic

What Makes an Alcoholic a “Closeted” Alcoholic?

The term “closeted” means to hide a part of oneself. It’s most commonly heard when referring to someone who isn’t “out” to others about being LGBT. In the case of alcohol use disorder, it’s someone who hides their alcohol use and isn’t open or honest about it with those around them.

5 Common Signs to Spot a Closet Alcoholic

If you’re uncertain if you might be truly closeted, or if you want to try and spot alcohol use in a loved one, here are some common signs you can watch out for.

Consumes Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

This ties in with alcohol use disorder as a whole. Generally, those who hide their alcohol use aren’t just casual drinkers or social drinkers. Alcohol can quickly become a coping mechanism, especially for things like high stress or depression. This is not a healthy way to drink alcohol, and should be noted if you see it happening in yourself or others.

Hides the Presence of Alcohol from Others

Hiding alcohol is the biggest component of closeted alcoholism. This can mean drinking strictly outside of the house or having a secret stash somewhere that isn’t easily accessible. Either way, you aren’t openly or willingly drinking in front of others most of the time.

Denies the Existence of a Problem With Alcohol Abuse

If you decide to confront someone about something, especially something they may feel bad about already, it’s easy to get defensive about it. This, too, can be said with alcohol use. Many times people might know that their level of use isn’t “ideal,” but they don’t have any other coping mechanisms to try instead. If you approach them and ask about it, they might deny too much or try to offer proof that they don’t drink. 

Engages in Heavy Drinking

This one might be harder to spot if you’re trying to look for signs of alcohol use in a loved one, but if you’re uncertain of your own relationship with alcohol, consider how much you drink. If you’ve been having to consume higher quantities to feel the same effects, or you find yourself often craving a drink when you’re not having one, this is considered to be excess or heavy drinking. 

Shows Some Common Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Finally, long-term alcohol use, or heavy alcohol use, will eventually take its toll on the body. You can look out for various physical signs of alcoholism such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Memory loss
  • Increased confusion
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Increased depression or anxiety

Long-term or heavy alcohol use can also lead to liver damage, stroke, and increased risk of cancer in various parts of the body.

approaching help for covert alcohol abuse

Getting Help for Closeted Alcoholism at Pacific Sands

If you or a loved one is looking to start the journey away from alcohol use, our team at Pacific Sands is here to help. We offer an intimate setting where clients can truly get the one-on-one care they deserve. Whether you need inpatient support or ongoing, outpatient support, our dedicated team has you covered.

We’re here and ready to help you at Pacific Sands. If you have any questions about our services, insurance, scheduling, or anything else, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 949-426-7962.


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    Santa Ana, CA 92704


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