Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful’. This phrase is often used in 12 step meetings. It means that those individuals who are struggling with an addiction are so influenced by drugs or alcohol that they don’t use logic anymore in their way of living. Their unspoken mantra is ‘by any means necessary’. Such individuals will do whatever it takes to feed their addiction, including hurting their loved ones.
So what can someone do if they feel they are being manipulated by an individual with an addiction?
Taking Back Your Power
Someone who has been a victim of an individual with addiction probably has felt betrayed, humiliated and angry. Such a person needs to take the power back in their relationship with the individual. There are ways to avoid manipulation, like:
Realizing that Everyone has Basic Human Rights
The person being manipulated must understand that they have basic human rights, and that they have the power to tell others not to manipulate them. They have the right to stand up for themselves and tell the individual with addiction that they should be respectful. The person should also learn to say no without any feelings of guilt. And of course safety is a basic human right, where the person has the right to protect their own self from physical, mental and emotional harm.
Keeping the Distance
An effective way to avoid being manipulated by the individual with addiction is to not engage with them, unless absolutely necessary. Such individuals can display extreme behavior, being charming one minute and rude the next. There is no reason for anyone to put up with that, and sometimes a separation from the individual is the only way to correct that situation.
Shining the Spotlight
A common manipulation tactic used by individuals with an addiction is requesting others to do things for them, which are unreasonable. In such a situation, ask the individual some probing questions, that shine a spotlight on their unreasonable request, such as:
- What do I get out of this?
- Do I have a say in this?
- Are you really expecting me to do this?
- Does this sound reasonable to you?
Usually, an individual with an addiction will not see that their behavior is manipulative, and so the other person needs to continue to use ways to keep their power.
Give it Time
An individual with an addiction will not be prepared to wait when they want something. They will want it immediately. It could be that they want to borrow someone’s car, or borrow their money, and the individual will pressure the other person to say yes right away. For a shift in power, all the other person has to do is say, “I will think about it”. Taking the time to weigh the pros and cons of the matter will help the person in coming up with a compromise, rather than being pressured into doing something they don’t want to do.
Learn to say no in a nice way. This is an important way to avoid manipulation. Saying no in a respectful manner means that the person is stating their boundaries and standing their ground and refusing to be manipulated by the person with an addiction.
Avoiding Self Blame
Often people feel guilty when they say no to an individual with an addiction, or stand up to them in some other way. Indeed, such individuals can look for ways to exploit someone’s weaknesses to their own advantage. It is important to remember when taking back power, that one is not the problem. The individual’s addiction is the problem. The individual is trying to manipulate the situation so that the other person feels bad or guilty and thus gives in to what they want. Remember, if the individual is not showing genuine respect, then it is not worth giving in to them, and continuing to enable their bad behavior.
Do you have a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse? Call The Villa to find out how we can help them on their way to recovery.