Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
5 Behaviors Your Addicted Loved One Uses To Keep You Off Their Back.
Have you ever tried to talk with your addicted loved one only to have them blow up in your face? Have you ever felt crazy, like you did something wrong? Are you being trained to ‘shut up’? Has your home become a war zone? If you said yes, you need to read this.
Addiction is a progressive and terminal illness. Those with it are in denial. They suffer from delusion and don’t know how sick they really are. Substance abusers protect their illness by using defensive maneuvers and playing mind games. They deny the seriousness of their problem by exhibiting dishonest, pathological, intimidating and manipulative behaviors. Below are the five main ones.
- Bait and switch –Have you ever confronted your addicted loved one only to find yourself being verbally attacked and your actions being questioned? This manipulative defense tactic quickly escalates into a yelling match. The addicted person throws you off balance by arguing about events that happened in the past, avoiding responsibility for their present actions. This tactic works well. Families who engage are quick to anger at the injustice of the situation and will argue back. You might even lose all control and revert to the same ugly behaviors as your sick loved one – yelling, swearing and saying things you later regret. You bit and now you pay. Payment usually comes in the form of feeling remorseful and guilty, then overcompensating by enabling or giving in to the addicted person’s demands.
- Blaming you for their drug/alcohol problem – Do you ever feel like you’re the problem? Everything the addicted person does is your fault. The substance abuser engages in self-pity and acts like the victim, putting you in the role of perpetrator. They accuse you of being selfish. They twist facts and leave you questioning your sanity. Addicted persons don’t take responsibility for their actions or choices. They minimize their behaviors and maximize yours. You feel like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. You walk on eggshells. One wrong word can cause them to relapse. You’re told you don’t love them enough. You are a bad parent or spouse. It seems you’re responsible for all their bad choices.
- Lying – Every person struggling with addiction lies. Most will tell you they don’t. Lying can involve manipulating or twisting the facts, or withholding information. Lying allows the addicted person to avoid reality or take responsibility for their actions. Active users do awful things to supply their habit. Things they are ashamed of and don’t want you to know about. If they don’t admit it, they didn’t do it. If they didn’t do it, there’s no problem. In short, their actions aren’t real unless they get caught.
- Aggressive and intimidating behaviors – No is not a word addicted persons like. No is simply a slow yes. Substance abusers are highly intelligent people. They know who they can manipulate and who to call when they need something. They will keep at you and wear you down with aggressive and intimidating behaviors. They may threaten to harm you, or themselves. You may find it easier to give in than to say no. But keep this in mind, saying yes when no is the right answer, allows the addicted person to feel happy in the short term, but contributes to their deadly, downward spiral. This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality trait exhibits aggressive behaviors because they work and they get rewarded for them.
- Emotional blackmail – Addicted persons can be charming when getting their way. Their charm is part of their appeal and is intoxicating for the person/s addicted to helping them. They can appear as weak, or needy. Their ‘helpers’ may experience feelings of euphoria from rescuing, saving or fixing. Eventually, the addicted person will cross the line and ask for something their helper can’t give. The helper may try setting boundaries and saying no, only to find they’re being accused of not being loving or caring enough. This blackmailing behavior usually starts with ‘If you really loved me you would’ (fill in the blank). If you don’t give in to their demands you may find yourself being punished through passive aggressive behaviors such as the silent treatment or having no contact with them. They may also pout and withhold their love and affection from you. In essence, your addicted loved one is using your love for them, against you.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking only the addicted person needs help. But that’s not true. Addiction worsens for everyone over time. The family learns to tolerate abuse and make excuses for it. The people who are closest will get hurt the worst. Without support, families can suffer from health problems and PTSD. Sadder still, some families refuse to seek help. They remain rigid in their role of co-dependent and enabler. The likelihood of the addicted person ever achieving recovery in these families is slim.
If you identify with any of these unhealthy behaviors, don’t despair. Recovery is possible, but you must reach out. Instead of picking up the substance, or confronting your addicted loved one and ending up in the same old loop – pain, misery and despair – try something different. Step outside your comfort zone and pick up the phone. Call the number below. Don’t wait for the impaired thinker to change. Lead the way!
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. (615) 208-2941.