Most addicts and alcoholics have a built-in, well-refined ability to emotionally manipulate others. Since the people that are in close relationships with them are usually caught between hope and fear, the manipulation takes on a dysfunctional lock and key fit.  The “codependent” people are easily manipulated as they desperately hope that things will change when they provide help to the addict.  Yet they are afraid that things will go terribly wrong if they don’t offer the help/enabling.  This makes the codependent person an easy target for manipulation as they operate in a delusion of false responsibility.

Some of the manipulations that addicts offer comes in very subtle ways.  Three of these are described below.

1) “You’re Depriving Me” Game:

An addict/alcoholic will use this over and over if it is one of the tools he/she uses.  This person will create a mess in his/her life and then ask for an unreasonable favor in light of what mess has been created.  For example, if an addict has wrecked a car because of drunk driving, she may ask someone to lend money to help buy a new one and then act like the person in the giving position is selfish if they refuse to help.  Since a lot of lower functioning addicts/alcoholics usually do not provide well for themselves, they are constantly asking for handouts and constantly making excuse as to why the “help” never seems to help them get ahead in life.

2) “It’s too Hard” Game

When help is given to the addict, the codependent person often expects certain conditions to be met if the help is given.  An example of this would be, in reference to the above listed car example,  that the addict would use the car to go search for a job and as a means to get to and from work.  When it comes down to looking for the job, the addicted person has rarely FULLY completed the promise he/she made.  This leaves the helper feeling angry as there was a deal made and a promise made by the addict that they would follow through in trying to get ahead in life.  Truly this person wants to get ahead in life, in part.  However, the stronger part which is in control of the addict, just wants to get high and drunk and escape the pressure.  It IS IN ACTUALITY too hard to get and keep a job when one is high or drunk on a very regular basis.  This leads into yet another game.

3)  “It Wasn’t That Bad” Game

If  the codependent person actually gets assertive enough to point out the pattern of using and drinking that thwarts any effort to get ahead on the addict’s part, the addict minimizes the use of alcohol/drugs and explains it away as not being connected in any way to the lack of progress in achieving life goals. Inside of this game, the person minimizes, not only the substance use or effects of other addictive behavior, but minimizes the viewpoint of the codependent person.  The irony of this is that the codependent person is often more in touch with the healthy reality of life.  The addict has delusional thinking in not connecting the dots i.e.,  the cause and effect of using.  This delusion becomes a shared reality with the codependent as this enabler gets sucked into a sort of black hole of mental denial that reality is not actually what it is.

Clearing away the fog of the delusion is like coming out of a trance.  It can take time to correct the thinking process and get on a healthy track.