Certified National Drug & Alcohol Interventionists

Manipulation & The Addict

Manipulation is an addict’s best friend; it is a favorite tool in their “tool belt”. While we know that addicts are not bad people, we are realistic in the fact that addiction causes people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. When an addict feels backed into a corner they will say anything to smooth over the situation as quickly as possible, so they can slowly but surely return to their old behaviors. They will go to great lengths to divert the attention off of them and manipulate a situation in their favor. In being allowed to do this their disease is steadily progressing. Rationalizing, deception, and justifying are all parts of manipulating and addicts excel at this. To them it’s for survival, but their perceptions are skewed…it is for their addiction’s survival. And to be brutally honest the disease of addiction means to kill them. If you notice these behaviors do not ignore it, do not allow it to continue to create chaos in your life. You can take back your power…I watched it happen this very week!

16 Responses to “Manipulation & The Addict”

  1. 調查 Says:

    I just stumbled upon your site and i truly saved it accommodating,you’ll be rewarded to your efforts.

  2. purple black Says:

    I agree 100%

  3. denise krochta Says:

    Just another point to add to this scenario. When the manipulation takes place and they will say anything when backed into a corner as Kelli says, this is an important thing to remember. Don’t take whatever they say personally!!!
    This could be a life changing tool for many of us.

  4. Admin Says:


    That is exactly right! I talk to so many families, and in some cases the loved ones are harboring resentments because the addict said something terrible or stole something valuable. The sad fact is that addicts lie, manipulate and deceive because of the guilt and shame they carry!

    I’m so glad you brought up this very important point! Keep sharing with us!

    Kelli Athas
    Intercept Interventions

  5. Julie Jordan-Wade Says:

    This is a very valuable lesson to learn when dealing with an addict…for your own survival & emotional stability! As a parent, spouse, child, or significant other who loves someone with addiction you MUST accept that manipulation is their mode of behavior–it has nothing to do with who you are to the addict but it has everything to do with their addiction. Detach from the manipulation tactics, stay focused on the big picture, take care of yourself first, & hard as it is, never give up on them.

  6. Anne Brink Says:

    Wow… if I could only figure out how to not be manipulated by the addict… My husband has been an aggressive addict. I have panic attacks everytime he comes near me. We have children together and I am attempting … yeah… attempting a divorce. (emotional roller coaster with a manipulator..”I’m a changed man”) and because of the children I fear I will always be part of the manipulation… How can I keep myself safe yet maintain a good (distant) relationship with their father?

  7. Admin Says:

    Thank you so much for your comment. I realize its a stressful situation especially when children are involved. The best thing you can do for yourself & children is to setup healthy boundaries & when you see he’s trying to manipulate you call him on it! Let him know its not acceptable & you refuse to participate or be controlled by it. As a family you have rights & you have the right to a peaceful life. You have the right not to live in the chaos brought on you by someone else….even your husband. And you don’t have to wait for him to change in order for you to make changes. If you have any other questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to call our number 877-744-3578. Always remember to take care of you!

  8. jennifer Says:

    my husband is an master manipulator he lies about everything its always my fault…. blames me for everything.. if i try to call him on anything he did wrong to me he turns it around and says i started in on him first never takes responsibility on any of his mistakes i.m in so much pain right now because he has damaged our 14 year marriage by leaving me with all the bills to pay saying that he is tied of hurting me and hurting him so he is moving with the uncle in Hawaii.. whom is a drunk also all of his friends are drug addicts they told him that leaving me will be best for him also his mother is a master manipulator i thought that i can talk to her she betrayed our trust and told him everything we talked about very nasty to me and never wanted us together from the very start i am crush and never will i trust any one else he says he is never coming back home

  9. forgotten and dismayed Says:

    Manipulation and scare tactics is what myself and my children have been involved with the addict for over 10 years. They can’t control themselves so they need to control people around them. They need to keep their “secret” safe. And anyone like this should try to mature, clean up the addictive behavior, and let their loved ones lead a healthy normal lifestyle without this burdeoning chain of deception and control. It should be A CRIME to control people. And the addicts needs to really depend on themselves to get better.

  10. Stella Says:

    My daughter is the addict in our family, which consists of me and my grandson. While she is much, much better than even a year ago (she is on methadone which is administered here in Spain, and which she herself is diminishing with my help) she still steals from me and tricks me vis-a-vis money on quite a regular basis. We live on a small island in Spain, there is no work especially given the present crisis here, she claims she needs to be trusted with money, i e to go grocery shopping, in order to feel some self worth yet she repeatedly cheats and accuses me of being difficult and treating her like a child when I react to this.

    She also claims that since she is on the mend and ‘trying so hard’ she needs marijuana to keep her spirits up. Should I refuse even one penny and also agreeing to the marijuana which she smokes in the evenings? In other words absolutely nothing except the food on the table.

    thank you for your reply,

  11. Admin Says:


    I really feel I need to be completely blunt here…YOUR CHILD IS STILL IN ACTIVE ADDICTION! Although she may be taking some steps to make positive changes in her life, it seems like she is only willing to do the things that are convenient for her. Smoking pot is not okay for an addict. I would like to know if she has been through treatment, is participating in any type of counselling, and/or going to any NA (Narconics Anonymous) meetings . If not then she isn’t “in recovery”. She has just stopped using and believe me when I say, those are two entirely different things! It does sound like she’s manipulating you and rationalizing and justifying her behavior. Like her saying, “You need to trust me with money so I can feel some self-worth.” But what has she done to gain your trust with money, especially!?! You don’t hand the keys to a 16 year old and say, “Go where you please, you earned it!” No, we set boudaries, like don’t go on the highway, or you can only go so many miles from home until we know you can handle this responsibility.

    There are many things you can do to begin setting boundaries with her but first she has to be held accountable. And she needs to be given the tools to deal with her situation. Marijuana definitely is not the answer…especially for someone already on methadone, which I hope they are slowly (but surely) weening her off. I would love to speak with you and possibly her as well. You should feel okay with delegating responsiblities to her and only then should she be given a dime! I strongly believe in giving incentives to someone new in recovery BUT the incentive needs to fit. I also believe there should be consequences for not following rules or guidelines set up in your home. You absolutely have the right to have a peaceful home. And if that peace is being disrupted by one person someone needs to take action!

    I really hope to hear from you and I pray that your daughter sees all you are doing for her and stops taking advantage!

    Sincerest Regards,
    Kelli Athas

  12. Admin Says:

    I can feel your frustration with the addict in your life. I realize living with an active addict leaves the family in the wake of the destruction and chaos caused by the disease of addiction. And until the addiction its self is addressed the chaos will continue. Addiction is a disease. The difference between addiction and other diseases is the methods of treatment. I do not know your situation. But I can tell you from my own experience that once an addict gets treatment and they take a look at the destruction they have caused they are truly remorseful….he or she may already be remorseful but doesn’t know how to show it without having the necessary tools. Addicts carry so much shame and guilt that it becomes difficult to even look in the mirror, much less face their own reality. Addicts do not respect themselves (look at what they put their body, mind, and soul through). And when we don’t respect ourselves then everyone that is in our path is treated with that same disrepect (how ever unintentional it may be). The control issue most likely stems from fear. When we work with a family we hold the mirror in front of the addict’s face but also show them that there is hope. They can get better, gain a healthier perspective on life, and become postive individuals. But there is work involved for everyone if its someone you care about. Addiction is a family disease and the families need to understand addiction and know there is a lot of support out there for both the addict and the family!

    I also want you to know you have the right to a life free of emotional terrorism. I will actually be posting a new article that reminds people of their rights as a family member. If you would like to talk we are available 24hrs a day. Call 877-744-3578 and press option 1

    Take care of yourself, always!
    Warm Regards,
    Kelli Athas

  13. Admin Says:

    I realize the situation you’re in is not an easy one and we have worked with many many husbands who feel they hold all the cards and all the power. The sad thing is most times everyone in the family is operating off of fear, especially the addict. There’s so little they have control over in their life and manipulating others is one way they try to maintain the control. But he needs to be held accountable. He needs to hear how his actions are affecting you. And everyone needs to be on the same page for healing to take place for all involved!

    I just responded to another family that is having a similiar issue…I hope you will read it as well and know we are always available!
    You do not have to listen to anyone speaking to you or treating you with disrespect…if that happens you can calmly state that that is not an acceptable tone and you cannot continue to participate in this unhealthy rhetoric!
    My sincere apologies for the late reply!

    Warm Regards,
    Kelli Athas

  14. Jennifer Padden Says:

    Further to my previous comments, do you feel it would be in the best interest of our son to call in the surety as he is not following the conditions of his bail? I ask this for 2 reasons: 1. by not calling in the surety, we are showing our son that it is ok for him to break the rules of his conditions 2. I feel that since we have been weak with our discipline, that this is once again showing that we are not doing our job as parents to him.

    We have felt much turmoil about what to do here…especially because if he is put in jail for not following curfew, what help will he receive there? He could become more frustrated, more depressed and may even become suicidal….this is so scary!

  15. Sara Says:

    I’ve been married to an addict for 22 years, and was very naive in the beginning. I see now that what I thought was just an extremely disfunctional way of communicating was really his manipulation. I also see that I never had the marriage I thought I had because he was an addict long before we met, and so he never really had the ability to love and be honest and open with me. This is a bitter pill to swallow. Where can I find specific information on the different techniques used by addicts to manipulate others. We are on the path to divorce, but I have children that will need to understand boundaries with their father and how to recognize his manipulation. Thank you!

  16. Admin Says:


    There are many different ways addicts manipulate. But the point is to divert the unwanted attention from them and their issues (especially when they feel backed in a corner). Addiction is a disease that effects not only the addict but the family and anyone who loves them. Addicts have a different perception of reality and some feel that their manipulations are survival tactics. They will displace anger and/or frustration they feel for themselves on something or someone else. They may blame their use on a tragedy, claiming this is their way of coping but it’s actually their way of escaping. And they will almost always rationalize and justify their use. For example, if someone is a prescription addict they my claim they cannot work without their pills. Many addicts are already on edge..they know what they’re doing is wrong but they have their addiction in their ear telling them using is the only way to escape the feelings of shame and hopelessness they feel. And until someone or something intervenes the viscous cycle will continue.

    If you have any questions or other concerns please don’t hesitate to call! Remember to always take care of you and realize you are not alone!

    Kelli Athas

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