Living with an addict is difficult and confusing. Addicts learn to manipulate people close to them to provide the resources and behaviors that allow them to continue their habit. Their skills are sometimes astounding, because they can focus minutely on the desires and needs of their target. They can then turn these needs and wants to their own advantage. Understanding the addict’s ability to do this can help friends and family members stop playing the manipulation game and urge their loved one into treatment.
A Game of Hearts
People around the addict must understand that his or her thinking is completely distorted by the addiction. Trying to reason with the individual is futile because they are not able to think along rational lines. Appealing to the previous close relationship with the addict does not work either. He or she no longer experiences the normal feelings of connection with others and is no longer held to the rules of normal relationships. In fact, your desires to “keep the family together,” “understand what he’s going through” or “prevent them from getting into further trouble” are apt to be manipulated into helping them continue the substance use. The addict can easily use your efforts to interact with them normally to get money from you, have you drive them to where the substance can be acquired, pay off debts or actively work to keep him or her out of legal trouble.
Web of Deceit
In addiction, as in war, truth is the first casualty. The need to hide the extent of the addiction problem becomes the main focus of the addict’s efforts. Because the addict is lying to himself about his addiction, it is easy to lie to others as well. The people around the addict often find themselves wrapped in a web of:
- Avoidance – Diverting efforts to deal with the growing addiction problem/li>
- Denial – Denying the extent of the problem
- Rationalization – Explaining away relapses and negative consequences
- Justification – Projecting responsibility for the consequences on other people
Playing on Hope
Even when friends and family know about the drug use, the manipulation escalates. The addict may make promises about stopping the drug use, focusing on school or work duties, going to rehab and a variety of other actions that will make the situation better, but they are actually unable to deliver. They deeply sense how much loved ones want the situation to change, and their efforts are always turned toward making it appear that this will soon occur. For loved ones, it becomes a long and tortured waiting game, with resolution just over the horizon. Meanwhile, the addict continues the substance abuse, often taking it to new levels as they play on their family’s complaisance and confusion.
Psychological Dysfunction in Addiction
Deep within the actions of an addict are a number of disturbed thinking patterns that cause them to treat loved ones like tools to help them continue their addiction, rather than treating them as beloved friends and family members. These thought patterns are:
Breaking the Cycle of Manipulation
Families often have difficulty recognizing that they are being manipulated. It can take many years before they are able to see the steps that comprise the game the addict plays to get what he wants. Once the family understands their part in this process, they can learn to stop playing and force the addict to confront the many problems his behavior causes.
Help For the Addicted
If you have a loved one that needs help with addiction and its endless game of manipulation, encourage him or her to get into an inpatient treatment program that can help them to alter their dysfunctional thought patterns and resume their normal relationships. Inpatient treatment can provide intensive help for the mind, body and spirit of the addicted family member in a caring environment. Call today to begin the journey.