Gaslighting refers to a specific type of psychological abuse where an individual attempts to manipulate someone by making them doubt themselves. Often when it comes to an addict and their behavior, lying is the best way out of probing questions. These lies may be as simple as consistent denial. In the face of this confident, passionate, and defensive reaction, loved ones begin to doubt their understanding of the facts.
It’s trickery and deceit that plays heavily on a person’s sense of trust and their belief that their loved one or partner means well. Gaslighting and addiction are a particularly difficult combination that is abusive and can even end up deadly when it enables individuals to continue with their drug abuse.
Common Ways Addicts Manipulate
You’ve counted your money again and again, just to be sure, but the same issue keeps coming up. You’re short on cash. You know that you had $300 in there, but now you are only finding $260. You confront your loved one about this, asking where they think the money went. They get oddly defensive, escalating, and getting progressively angrier. They start calling you things like “crazy” or “forgetful.” You leave the conversation assuming you just forgot to take out that additional $40.
You are being gaslighted, and until you understand what that means and how to avoid it, you will continue to be abused by your loved one.
Gaslighting and Addiction
When it comes to someone with a substance use disorder (SUD), gaslighting is often used to manipulate their loved ones by making them think their criticisms are insane. Common signs of gaslighting are:
- Person with the Substance Use Disorder may call you crazy, forgetful, stupid, unstable, or any kind of insult that would indicate your brain doesn’t work right
- Person with the SUD may experience sudden swings in mood, especially when confronted about their behavior
- Person with the SUD will constantly lie
- Person with the SUD will use threats and intimidation to confuse you
- Person with the SUD will focus on tiny details in arguments, bringing up any small transgressions that make you seem ‘insane’
- Person with the SUD will “lovebomb” you once you’ve admitted you were wrong, giving you lots of praise, attention, and affection
When it comes to addiction, the abuser is likely not doing this to intentionally harm you. They are suffering from their own battles with whatever substance they are addicted to, and the gaslighting is simply a tool to remove any obstacles to their fix.
Why Do Addicts Lie?
Addiction is a brain disease. The person you know is still there, but they are hijacked by their cravings and impulses. It is important for you to understand the signs of this abuse not only for your own mental health but also for the health of the person with the substance use disorder. If they keep tricking others into thinking they don’t have a problem, they will never have to address their problem with a rehab program.