Anyone who has a loved one or close friend suffering from addiction encounters the fact that addicts manipulate the ones closest to them. It is most often family and friends who are manipulated in some way by an addict’s behavior and that can lead to many questions: Why do addicts manipulate friends and family who have their best interests at heart and want to help? Why do they lie or exaggerate the truth so often? Why do they risk hurting relationships through their manipulation?

Drug addicts will use tactics of manipulation to get what they want. Their addiction has reduced their capacity to think objectively and often desperation has taken over their sense of morality. In order to avoid being a victim of manipulation it is important to:

  • Understand why addicts manipulate.
  • Recognize what manipulation looks like.
  • Learn how to avoid being caught in manipulation.


Why do addicts manipulate?


Overwhelming cravings for drugs justify manipulation. The intense need for drugs creates an uncontrollable physical and psychological craving. When this craving takes over, addicts will literally do anything necessary to satisfy their need for drugs, including lying to or manipulating the ones around them. In this state, morality often goes out the window and the addict doesn’t care about consequences as long as their need is fulfilled.


There is a need for control. An element of drug addiction is its ability to make the addict feel powerless. Because of the uncontrollable dependence drug addiction creates, addicts can feel the need to control their environment. Power and control can be intoxicating motivators that cause addicts to manipulate situations and people to get things their way.


Mental capacity is damaged by drug use. Drug addicts often say that their addiction makes them “crazy.” This is true in the sense that the craving for drugs takes over, they are so overwhelmed that all other considerations take a backseat. Drugs and alcohol also change how the brain works, making it difficult for addicts to think clearly and make good decisions.


Recognizing manipulation.


A drug addict typically follows a pattern of manipulation that puts them in the position of power. As previously mentioned, the need for power and control often dominate addictive behavior and they use them to get what they want. These manipulation techniques vary between friends and family. Here are just a few examples of what and addict’s manipulative behavior looks like:


  • Asking different family members for money or favors until one agrees.
  • Causing arguments between family members so they can step in as mediator.
  • Threatening self-harm or suicide to get a reaction out of loved ones.
  • Throwing tantrums or fits that might include throwing objects or breaking things.
  • Blaming family for their addiction to illicit guilt.
  • Doing nice gestures out of the blue to make you think they’ve changed or to make up for previous bad behavior.


The list could go on and on, but the important element to recognize is how an addict can create a situation where he or she is in the position of power. That is the hallmark or recognizing manipulation and the key to avoiding it.


What can you do to avoid being manipulated?


When you recognize an addict’s manipulation in your life, it is important to assert your rights in the situation. It is ok to stand up for yourself and protect yourself from any further manipulation. This might cause you to create distance between yourself and the addict manipulating you. It might also cause you to create more firm “boundaries” between yourself and the addict. You can still love your addicted family member or friend, and by not playing into their manipulation you can help them on the road to recovery.

Some helpful suggestions to avoid being manipulated include:

  • Be completely honest with the person when you suspect manipulation or if they are being rude or disrespectful.
  • Clearly state your boundaries when it comes to the help you are willing to give. If you don’t want to give them money, for example, make that clear to them.
  • Learn to calmly and firmly say “no” to situations you don’t agree with.
  • Realize that it is the addicted family member or friend’s responsibility for their own happiness, not yours.
  • Learn to keep a safe distance.
  • Join a support group like Al-Anon to learn from others who have faced similar situations.


Are you being manipulated by an addicted loved one or friend? Are you looking for next steps to get help? Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help you. If you need advice on next steps call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.