Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

5 Ways People Hide Their Pain Instead of Dealing with Their Addiction

  • Craig Brown Author
  • Updated Jun 03, 2021
5 Ways People Hide Their Pain Instead of Dealing with Their Addiction

We all hide. Most of us learned how to hide at a young age because we experienced the pain of abandonment, betrayal or abuse -- and it was easier to hide the pain than face it. As adults, too many of us are using those same hiding skills to sustain an unhealthy addiction.

For years, I hid my own drug addiction from family and friends, until God rescued me and turned my life around. That was 35 years ago, and for the past 22 years I have followed his call to help others find freedom from shame, guilt, pain and addiction.

Here are 5 common ways, taken from my ministry experience, people hide their shortcomings, addictions, and shame, rather than seeking healing in Christ.

1. They Serve in Church

Want to know one of the best places to hide? Church. We want to look good at church, so we wear a mask to prevent anyone from seeing how much we are drowning due to our addiction. Jesus wanted his Church to be similar to a hospital. Instead, it has become a stage to prove what a good person you are, because you serve on the elder board and lead the missions team around the world. No matter how many great works you do, you can not hide from the pain and addiction privately being struggled with. Go to church to heal, not hide. Let’s decide to stop hiding pain and addiction behind bright smiles in church.

2. They Separate from People Who Can Hold them Accountable

To someone who is hiding addiction or pain, their primary goal is often to keep it from their spouse or immediate family. My wife and I faced some uncharted waters years ago, and we weren’t getting along. Rather than communicating, we immersed ourselves in the activities of our children. Instead of acknowledging the pain, we hid from each other and loved ones for an extended period. This is a common behavior, and it takes courage to open up to people you can trust when you need help. Take a step today to share your pain and struggles, and ask God to lead you to a community to help.

3. They Use Defense Mechanisms

Wearing a mask for some looks like sarcasm or dry humor, while others seem short-tempered and critical. Each defense mechanism has the same goal: to be distant and prevent intimacy rather than communicate. This prevents any attempt by the people around you to relate to you or you to them. People do this because their fear is greater than their pain. In order to overcome this, bring your true self to the foot of the cross and allow the Lord to help you drop your defensive habits. Do not use your personality as an excuse, behavior like this is a sign of pain that needs to be healed.

4. They Hide Behind Insecurity

If you do not feel good about yourself, it's easy to hide that pain behind a mask of apology and insecurity. Maybe as a child your parents talked about your weight, or intelligence, or interests. Now, as an adult, you are constantly self-deprecating, and talk down about yourself to others because you fear they think less of you. This is not Christian humility; this is an unhealthy sign you are hiding from pain.

5. They Hide from God

The Lord is the only one who can help you heal from whatever you are hiding from. If you refuse to share your heart with him, healing remains impossible. God is there for you and wants you to be honest with him. You never have to hide your shortcomings or pretend that you are okay with Him. Why do that when he knows the status of your heart, mind and soul anyway? He was there when the pain occurred and wants to comfort you. When you pray general prayers and avoid intimacy with him you delay the healing he has for his children.

We've all had moments when we allowed our shame and sin to send us into hiding - from our fellow believers and, most importantly, from God. 

The enemy’s objective is to draw us away from people who can pray for us and help lift us out of the pit, to continue to lead us on a downward spiral away from God’s will for our lives.

Please share this article with anyone you know struggling with pain, shame, or addiction. Encourage them to put down the pain, and to give their shame to the Father. Only in Christ can we have freedom from the past.

Photo credit: © Getty Images/Marjan Apostolovic

Craig Brown is the Recovery pastor at Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, Md, and author of the new book “Stop Hiding Start Healing” available on Amazon.com.