common ways addicts manipulate

6 Common Ways Addicts Manipulate

If you happen to have an addict in your life chances are you are well aware of their uncanny ability to manipulate you.  The addict’s manipulation skills are so astute that, as a parent or loved one of the addict, you are often left off balance, even questioning yourself.

Addiction is a powerful foe that demands constant attention from its victims.  The addicted brain knows no limits to finding ways to get more of what it wants, the drug or alcohol of choice.  It is almost as if the addiction has hijacked the individual, thrown a rope around his or her neck, and commences to lead the addict around doing his bidding by using various manipulative techniques.  It all centers on the inherent need for a constant inflow of the substance—and the addicted mind will stop at nothing to get it.

All of this may paint a highly unflattering picture of the addict.  The fact is, most people who have succumbed to addiction are nice people.  These manipulative behaviors are not who they really are. But under the spell of a drug or alcohol addiction they will indeed utilize the common ways addicts manipulate family and friends in order to keep the drugs coming and that addicted brain happy…by any means necessary.

6 Common Ways Addicts Manipulate You

No one likes to admit they’ve been had.  But the fact is, most of us who have an addict in our realm are most definitely recipients of the assorted common ways addicts manipulate their people.  An addict will lie, steal, cheat, and do whatever it takes to acquire the drug and to continue using, no matter how much his or her family implores them to stop.  Here are some of the manipulation techniques they might employ to that end:

  1. Feeding off denial. Like most parents, there may be a protracted period where you were in denial about your son or daughter’s addiction.  This prepares a perfect tableau for the addict to use their manipulation skills. They may milk the fact that you can’t admit they have a substance abuse problem and use methods such as “You know I am not doing drugs so you need to trust me (with the car; to go to some large event like a rave; to spend the weekend unsupervised)
  2. Playing the victim.  The blame game is another common technique in an attempt to make the addiction someone else’s fault.  They may blame the parents, their boss, their friends, their family history or genetics, the police—anyone but placing the blame on themselves.
  3. Control.  To offset their internal sense of powerlessness, an addict may asset various techniques to gain control of their environment.  These might include punishing loved ones with the silent treatment, threatening self-harm, refusing to participate in counseling efforts, isolating themselves from loved ones.
  4. Guilt. Guilt is a powerful tool for the addict, and easily employed—especially with parents.  The addict knows you would give them the shirt off your back, so when they lay a guilt trip on you (ie., if you and dad hadn’t gotten divorced I wouldn’t have this problem) your first response is to assuage your guilty feelings and cave in to their requests.
  5. Splitting.  Divide and conquer is a technique employed to split loyalties and gain traction in their environment.  They may pit one parent against the other or tell lies about the parents to make them appear to be abusive.  They may gain supporters and gang up on the parent or loved ones.
  6. Priming.  A common technique to gain a predetermined outcome, involving actions or words.  In conversation priming may involve the addict apologizing repeatedly in public, or saying they love you while being witnessed to ensure a favorable outcome to what it is they are wanting from you.  They may butter you up with acts of kindness or generosity, disarming you, and then proceed with addictive behaviors.

Tips on How To Disarm the Manipulation Techniques

Al-Anon teaches to “detach in love,” and that is excellent advice for anyone living in the addict’s sphere. Some other useful tips include:

  • Take a pause, stating “Let me think about it” before being pressured by the addict
  • Do not give an addict money
  • Learn how to say “no” politely by restating your boundaries
  • Understand that you are not responsible for their happiness
  • Take care of you own physical and mental health so you feel strong
  • Expect to be treated with respect and call them out when they are not doing that
  • Avoid the guilt trap, knowing that you are not the problem

Phoenix Rising Behavioral Intensive Outpatient Program Orange County

Phoenix Rising Behavioral is a leading outpatient addiction treatment program serving South Orange County, CA.  The highly skilled therapists are trained to recognize the common ways addicts manipulate, and how their clients may be using these to hide or further their addiction behaviors.  For more information about the program, please contact Phoenix Rising today at (877) 299-5694.

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