Although addiction is a recognised illness of the brain, there is still a certain amount of stigma attached to it. Those who suffer from addiction often feel ashamed or embarrassed about having this illness; so much so that they will try to hide it from their friends, family members, and the rest of the outside world.

Some people will even practice denial because it is easier than admitting that they really have a problem. Some find it easier to blame others for their problems, or to find reasons they cannot quit drinking or taking drugs right now.

High-Functioning Addict

A guest on Dr Oz has opened up about her ten-year alcohol addiction that she hid from her family and friends. Even her husband and children did not know that she had a problem as she was what is described as a high-functioning addict.

From the outside looking in, Tara appeared to have it all. She had a nice home, loving family and a good career. However, she was struggling to cope with severe low self-esteem and was self-medicating with alcohol.

Tara managed to hide the problem from those around her by employing various tactics such as having a few beers before getting the children ready for school. She added, “I would put vodka in a coffee mug so they weren’t aware of what I was doing.”

She would also feed her habit during the day while at work by sneaking away from the bank where she was employed to have a few drinks. She kept bottles of wine hidden in her car as well as in the drawers in her bedroom. She said, “My secret drinking place at one point was a cemetery – I would drive my car there and be able to drink with no one knowing.”

Secret Problem

Shockingly, Tara admitted to often staying up most of the night drinking after sneaking downstairs when her husband was asleep. She would then take unnecessary risks to dispose of the evidence by driving miles while under the influence just to get rid of the empty bottles. She knew she had a problem but was desperate that nobody would find out. She said, “I didn’t want anyone to know what I had turned into. I had a lot of guilt and a lot of shame.”

Cause of Addiction

Tara admits that there was a strong drinking culture when she was growing up, which is thought to be a factor for addiction. She also suffered from mental health problems including low self-esteem. She went on to say, “I had no self-esteem. I wasn’t feeling good about myself. I became addicted to alcohol and when I didn’t drink I would become anxious. But a lot of it was self-doubt. I wasn’t worthy.”

She believes that problems like hers are much more widespread than most people realise, and she wanted to speak out in the hope that others could relate and get the help they need to overcome their illness.


Although Tara may have believed that she had hidden her problem from those around her, the drinking reached the point where it began to have an adverse effect on the family. After driving 25 miles while intoxicated, her husband, Kevin was extremely upset and told her he wanted her to leave. She said, “There was a lot of self-reflecting and the next day I went home and packed up my bags and said I was going to treatment because I needed help.”

Kevin admitted to feeling hurt and betrayed when he discovered the extent of his wife’s addiction, but he said that he wanted to help her move forward into recovery. She has now been sober for seventeen months and says her life has changed for the better since quitting alcohol, adding, “I feel human again. I feel like I’m seeing life for the first time in so many ways. I have hope again and dreams again.”


  1. Alcoholic mum-of-three hid deadly addiction from family and friends for TEN years