Silent danger: Living with a secret addiction

Addictions can sneak up on you.  I embraced my alcoholism with open arms, but became addicted to prescription drugs without realizing it, and entirely because of ignorance on my part and the part of my (then) doctors.  As an example, it took 5 days to detox me from alcohol, and nearly three weeks to do so from benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Valium, etc.).  I’d been taking them for years, and rarely if ever took even the prescribed amount.  I had no idea that I was in danger of addiction, or that I was addicted.  Surprise!

pillsThis sort of thing happens to a lot of good people who are just seeking relief in the manner recommended by their physicians.  It’s an excellent reason for NEVER doing something or taking a medication just because one doctor says to do it.  Sites like,, and various government sites — is a good place to start — have clearly presented, easy to understand information about drugs, drug interactions, and potential for addiction.  

And remember: when it comes to prescription drugs, your pharmacist (not your doctor) is your best friend.  Doctors are scientists who specialize in the various functions and malfunctions of the human body.  Very few are experts in neuropsychopharmacology.  In addition, very few are trained in, or really understand, addiction.  In this, as in all health issues, you have to study and be your own advocate.

This article from the BBC is a good example of the ways bad things happen to good people.

“The whole stigma attached to substance misuse still exists and that is a key element in people remaining silent regarding their addictions.

“For all the positive work we see on high-profile TV campaigns about removing the stigma of alcohol and substance addiction, we have many people coming in to FASA who don’t want to tell anyone about their addiction.”

4 thoughts on “Silent danger: Living with a secret addiction

  1. Bill Post author

    It would be wonderful if there were drugs that prevent addictions, but unfortunately that is not the case. Many drugs that doctors mistakenly believe will be helpful are themselves addictive. That is a function of the doctor’s lack of training in addiction medicine. In most cases, pharmacists know more about those things than the doctor does. Recovering addicts should be careful to check out ANY drugs, even those sold without a prescription, with their pharmacist. Doctors are not drug experts, and do not have time to learn all the details about the medications they prescribe. It’s a shame, but there it is.


  2. Seaba Mucobe

    i think what is best for doctors to do is to warn or make their patients aware that some medications that prevent addictions can also be addictive themselves. you may even find that some people use these drugs far more than they are supposed to which in most cases may be harmful to their well being. this is a good way to make other people who have the same problem know or be aware that they might actually have a secret addiction.


  3. Bill Post author

    Hi Sissy,

    Codependency is a tough one. Like sex addiction, it involves perfectly natural behavior carried to pathological extremes. We can work on it, and improve it, but apart from completely severing ties it’s really hard to control completely. The best definition that I’ve ever heard is that codependency is fixating on others to our own detriment, and doing for them the things they ought to be doing for themselves. Where does love and partnership meet codependency? Right after that comma, when we start caretaking instead of partnering.

    Thanks for your kind words. If you haven’t yet done so, you might pick up a copy of Melody Beatty’s “Codependent No More”. Many have found it helpful.

    Keep on keepin’ on!



  4. sissy99

    Your post really help me. Sometimes they have such on point meaning it is like you saw my day. I have been living with an alcoholic, and prescription drug addict for 17 years.
    I was the enabler and am told I am Co-dependent. I have learned what it is to be the enabler and I no longer enable him. I however have a hard time with Co-dependency. So thank you for your post.
    I have read everything on the internet about addiction. I love when I get the email with your blogs, like I said they almost always hit home, it is like you see inside my life. Thanks!


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