If someone you love is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, setting boundaries while still showing them you love them and care about their well-being can be difficult. Many times, families of addicts struggle with finding the right balance. Unfortunately, people addicted to drugs or alcohol can manipulate those around them to secure the drug they need.
Manipulation combines guilt, fear, hope, and pain and can be employed using several different methods. Often, the addict will present themselves as the victim of circumstances outside their control or as a victim wronged by others. Then, they may employ guilt-tripping to get what they need from another person. Or, they may “sell hope” to their loved ones, stating that this is the last time they’ll ask or change their behavior, such as attending church, going to the gym, or getting up early for work.
The point of these manipulations is to ensure the addict’s comfort and shield them from the hard choice of entering rehab and the challenges of treatment and sobriety.
Why are Addicts Manipulative?
The underlying reasons that addicts manipulate others often lie in the reasons that they’re choosing substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
Selfishness is one reason and a characteristic that almost all addicts share. However, many people with substance abuse issues may at the same time be referred to as very nice people or generous. But, is their motivation truly foor the greater good of another, or are they doing nice things to benefit themselves? Selfish people may feel angered if their good deed is acknowledged. Or, an addict may do something good because they expect the favor returned.
Guilt and shame are also common manipulative tactics used by addicts, often to deflect their own underlying guilt and shame. Many people turn to drugs to deal with their feelings of shame or guilt and, over time, bury those feelings. Therapy can help explore underlying feelings that substance use hides. When an addict uses shame and guilt to get something they want, often they’ll combine the two. They’ll make you feel guilty for not giving in and then like a bad person for not supporting or helping them.
Shaming behavior is a little more personal than trying to manipulate through guilt. Shame may come from a deep-seated resentment towards a family member, including unresolved anger toward a parent or jealousy towards a sibling. Using shame, therefore, is the addict’s projection of their own anger, frustration, or hurt.
The need for control is another common thread in manipulative behavior from addicts. This may seem confusing to families who see the person as out of control when drunk or high. Many addicts may manipulate situations or relationships in an effort to control the outcome. Perhaps they don’t want a spouse to leave, or they don’t want a parent to kick them out of the house. By exerting control over the other person, an addict may feel as though they’re more in control of their life and other people’s decisions than they actually are.
Are You Concerned About Your Loved One?
If some of these behavior patterns look familiar and you notice that your loved one is drinking more or using drugs, there is hope and help. Baystate Recovery Services offers comprehensive substance abuse treatment, focusing on detoxing the body and exploring the reasons behind the substance abuse. Compassionate therapy and a client-focused approach can help. Call today for a confidential assessment.