manipulative behavior

How to Recognize an Addict’s Manipulative Behavior

If someone you love is living with a substance use disorder, you are probably all too familiar with the manipulative tactics their addiction causes as its hold on them deepens. These behaviors can be heartbreaking, and they even have the power to end the strongest relationships. 

Amid the emotional wreckage of an addiction-damaged relationship, it can be challenging to spot manipulative behaviors, let alone determine the appropriate way to respond. However, if you can take a step back and reframe the situation, you can take a clear-headed view of how your loved one is manipulating you into fueling their addiction.

Why Do Addicts Manipulate Those Around Them?

As a family member or close friend of an addicted loved one, you may struggle to understand why someone would want to manipulate the people who care about them most. Despite the confusing behaviors, there are several evident reasons addicted people manipulate those around them.

One such reason is the addict’s urge to be in control. As the cycle of addiction deepens, it takes over their life and leaves them feeling powerless to change their behavior. To compensate, many addicts often attempt to control their environment and those around them.

Their intense compulsion to use drugs and alcohol is another reason addicts manipulate. A physical and mental dependence on these substances can make it nearly impossible for a person to quit using or drinking on their own, despite the obvious negative consequences. Addicted people will resort to nearly anything, including lying and stealing, to obtain more of their substance of abuse. At this point, manipulative behavior begins to feel justifiable.

What Qualifies as Manipulative Behavior?

Here are a few examples of manipulative behaviors a loved one living with a substance misuse disorder might use to get what they want.

  • Becoming belligerent, hostile, defensive or emotionally withdrawn when you confront them about their addictive behaviors
  • Threatening to hurt you or themselves if they do not get what they want from you
  • Isolating themselves from you and other loved ones to avoid having to discuss their substance abuse
  • Trying to make you feel guilty by blaming you for their addiction
  • Refusing to take responsibility for their actions

Is Your Loved One Manipulating You?

When someone you care about is trying to manipulate you, it can be hard to admit it to yourself. However, you should learn some common red flags of manipulative behavior in addicts, so you can call it out when you see it. 

  • Exploiting your emotional, physical and financial vulnerabilities with their behavior
  • Only being nice to you when they want you to do something in return
  • Interactions that make you feel bullied, underappreciated or ashamed

When you recognize an addict in your life is manipulating you, it’s essential to remember that you deserve to protect yourself and your mental health. You can begin by learning to say no and set boundaries. Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean you love and support the addict any less. Indeed, in refusing to allow the addict to manipulate you further, you may even help them finally come to grips with the fact that they need to seek help for their addiction.

Helping Your Loved One Get the Help They Need

Modifying harmful behaviors like manipulation and addiction take time and effort, but that’s why it is so worthwhile. With the right treatment program, and support from you and others who care about them, your addicted loved one can learn how to put down the burden of addiction and lead a life with a brighter future. 

In many cases, a professionally managed intervention makes the difference in helping persuade a loved one to seek help for their addiction. At Whitman Recovery Service, our interventionists have organized interventions with a 98 percent rate of success. Contact us today to learn more about our 30 years of experience.