Secret Drinking Red Flag Alert: Sneaking a Cheeky Pour to Drinking Home Alone

In our latest Not Drinking Today Podcast episode, we tackle the topic of hidden or secret drinking.

It’s underground. It’s shameful. It’s dangerous and it is happening in households all around us. Many hiding their drinking look great on the outside (for a while, for years even) and many do not know why they are doing it. They want out, but it’s a really hard behaviour to fess up to. It’s very personal, runs deep and very confusing.

In this episode, I chat about the reasons behind this behaviour and its potential consequences. From using alcohol as a coping mechanism to feeling misunderstood, we uncover the triggers that contribute to hidden drinking at home.
Secret drinking… can be as ‘small’ as:

👉 Sneaking an extra cheeky glass without your partner knowing

👉 Drinking a glass or 2 before a party and denying it

👉 Hiding your glass (in the pantry? Behind the toaster?)

and it can turn into:

👉 Hiding a bottle (under the sink? in a drawer?)

👉 Hiding empties (and waiting until bin day)

👉 Drinking in a coffee cup to hide the alcohol

👉 Drinking home alone and denying it

Then grow into something quite serious, like

👉 Drinking in the morning when your partner and kids leave

The list goes on.

Hiding things, being dishonest about your drinking, no matter how small at first, can lead to feelings of emptiness (as no one truly knows who you are and what you are doing – even yourself) which contributes to the cycle.

Secret drinking often starts with sneaking an extra glass here, having a few drinks before social gatherings there. However, it can easily and quickly spiral into a full-blown hidden drinking habit that leaves you unrecognisable even to yourself. The way out can be fraught with challenges, but you are not alone! There is hope!

Hidden drinking often stems from a complex web of emotional needs, silent protests, and coping mechanisms. For some, it’s an expression of autonomy, a misguided adventure into the illusion of freedom. For others, it’s a reaction to feeling misunderstood or overwhelmed by societal and personal pressures. These motivations are often compounded by the dangerous cycle of secrecy, which can erode one’s sense of self-worth and perpetuate further drinking.

Through the podcast, I share my personal experience with this but also provide professional advice on how to recognise and address these hidden drinking behaviours. I really want to emphasise the importance of seeking help when physical addiction becomes a concern, and how vital it is to view the secrecy surrounding one’s drinking as a red flag signalling the need for change.

One of the more powerful aspects is addressing this type of drinking behaviour is radical honesty. This transformative approach involves being candid about all aspects of life, not just alcohol consumption. Radical honesty can foster awareness, create intimate human connections, and lead to a truthful autobiography that holds one accountable (see Dr Anna Lembke’s book Dopamine Nation). By embracing this level of openness, individuals can step out of survival mode and into a life of authenticity.

The episode also touches upon the societal disconnect between public personas and private struggles. Many who secretly drink may maintain a façade of perfection or success, while internally battling with their relationship with alcohol. My personal journey highlights the importance of aligning one’s life with true values and desires, a step that can lead to a more fulfilling existence.

If you have a story to share on this topic, please let me know! It creates hope for others. It invites those who might be silently struggling to step forward and begin their own journeys towards sobriety and self-expression.

Recognising the need for change and the desire for a life that resonates with one’s true self can be an exciting realisation. It’s a journey that can be taken independently or with support, but it always begins with the first step of acknowledging the issue.

For those seeking to understand the silent struggle of hidden drinking, this episode serves as a beacon of hope. Hopefully my openness and honesty can provide one person with a pathway to follow, shedding light on a subject that too often remains in the shadows. My message is clear: living authentically and in alignment with one’s values is not only possible but also deeply liberating.

Link to this episode is here