How to Recognize Manipulation in a Loved One Struggling with Substance Use

How to Recognize Manipulation in a Loved One Struggling with Substance Use
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Interacting with someone who is struggling with substance use can be complex and emotionally challenging. Unfortunately, some individuals may resort to manipulation as a means to sustain their addiction. It’s important to be able to differentiate between genuine communication and manipulation so that you don’t fall into the trap of enabling.

Let’s explore the different ways you can spot manipulation from individuals dealing with substance use, as well as insights on how to respond compassionately and effectively.

Why Do People with Addiction Manipulate Others?

Most family members are surprised to learn just how much they have been manipulated by their loved one. Unfortunately, people who struggle with addiction are often very effective manipulators, and the ways in which they manipulate go far beyond what an average person can imagine.

What makes people with substance use so convincing is that they believe themselves. The drugs have changed the way their brain works, causing them to be more impulsive and less analytical. Furthermore, the drug cravings become so overwhelming, they can’t think about anything else but their drug of choice.

Even if you try to be objective, it’s hard to argue with someone who is so convincing. And ultimately, family members want to believe the best in their loved one, so they may leave things alone. However, by not addressing the underlying problem, you’re allowing it to continue. Addiction is progressive, and it requires medication, counseling and therapy to get better.

How to Recognize Manipulation

Manipulation often involves consistent patterns of behavior aimed at getting what the person wants. Look for instances of consistent lying, making excuses and exaggerating stories to garner sympathy or financial assistance. Manipulative individuals may also shift blame onto others, minimizing their accountability for their actions.

Here are some signs that you may be being manipulated by your loved one:

Emotional guilt trips

A classic manipulation tactic is using emotional guilt to elicit a desired response. Individuals struggling with substance use might play on your sympathy by highlighting their hardships or emotional struggles, creating an environment where you feel obligated to provide help. Even if your loved one has been faced with difficult circumstances, substance use is not the answer.

Unreliable promises

 Manipulation often involves making promises that are repeatedly broken. This could be a commitment to quit using drugs or engage in a treatment program, only to be abandoned when it’s convenient for the manipulator. Be cautious if you notice a cycle of unfulfilled promises. With so many flexible options for drug and alcohol rehab, there is no reason why your loved one can’t start their recovery.

Playing on fear or pity

Manipulative individuals might use fear-based tactics, suggesting dire consequences if they don’t get what they want. Similarly, they might emphasize their vulnerability to gain pity, hoping to invoke your sympathy and compassion. Fear-based tactics are especially effective on people who easily feel guilty.

Highs and lows in communication

Fluctuating communication patterns are common in manipulative dynamics. When individuals struggling with substance use need something, they might suddenly become overly friendly or affectionate, only to withdraw once their needs are met. Recognizing these patterns can help you assess the authenticity of their interactions.

Emotional pressure

Manipulators often apply emotional pressure to achieve their goals. They might push you to make quick decisions or commitments without allowing you time to think things through. This sense of urgency can make it difficult to see their intentions clearly. Always take time to assess situations on your own.

Boundary setting

Establishing clear boundaries is essential when dealing with manipulation. However, in codependent relationships, boundaries are very clearly lacking. It’s okay to let your loved one know that you are willing to support their recovery but unwilling to support their habit. By defining limits, you can minimize the opportunities for manipulation to occur.

Trusting your instincts

Listening to your gut feeling is valuable. If something about the interaction feels off or too intense, it’s okay to take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Trusting your instincts can prevent you from being manipulated. It’s also important to seek support for yourself. Peer support groups like Al-Anon can help you see your loved one’s actions more clearly and develop appropriate coping skills.

Guide Your Loved One Towards Healing and Recovery

Recognizing manipulation from individuals struggling with substance use is a crucial skill that empowers you to provide effective and compassionate support. While it’s important to be empathetic and understanding, setting healthy boundaries and maintaining self-care are equally vital.

By being aware of manipulation tactics and addressing them with compassion and firmness, you can help guide your loved one towards genuine healing and recovery while safeguarding your own emotional well-being. To learn more about the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at Pura Vida Recovery, contact our admissions team today.