Gaslighting and Addiction
Gaslighting is a psychological manipulative tactic, intentionally used to distort someone’s sense of perception, experience and reality, in some cases to gain power and control over other individuals. The core of gaslighting behavior is to create false information consistently to convince others or deter them away from the truth.
Gaslighting is a term that came into usage from a 1938 play titled Gas Light, and it has recently been selected by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the 2022 word of the year because of its increased usage.
When an individual is addicted to a substance such as alcohol or drugs, they go to inordinate lengths in order to continue their habit. In the interests of keeping their addiction a secret from their loved ones and coworkers they tend to lie and hide information. To keep funding their habit they may even resort to other illegal behaviors. What’s even more harmful is when individuals lie to themselves about their addictions. When this behavior is maintained for a long time, it can create a distorted sense of reality for themselves and the people around them.
Substance abusers often lie or use manipulative language to conceal the truth about how dependent they are on a substance, even going to the lengths of becoming aggressive or abusive in order to maintain their denial.
In many cases, gaslighting may be linked to other mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorder, or other conditions. Gaslighting may also be linked to substance use disorder.
Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT
Review Date: 3/1/2023
Individuals who suffer from addiction don’t necessarily want their family or friends to know about the extent of their addiction. They may sometimes hide the substance, lie about how they spend their money, and make up stories or excuses when asked about it.
In addition to lying and hiding the truth from others, people who suffer from addiction may be in denial even to themselves about the severity of their addiction. Denial is often a coping mechanism in addiction patients who do not know how to seek help.
Individuals who suffer from addiction don’t necessarily want to hurt their family or friends. They are only interested in avoiding any resistance to their habit, so that they can maintain their habit. In order to avoid confrontation, they may appear to agree with their loved ones, and lie in order to do so.
Gaslighters often lie or distort the truth in order to control the narrative. In order to do so, they may resort to aggressive or even abusive behavior while manipulating the truth. In the long term this can create chaos in their relationships.
While gaslighting may seem like a harmless tactic to hide an individual’s addiction, the repetitive behaviors over a long time can become more complex, creating negative consequences for themselves and the people around them.
Some negative effects of gaslighting may include:
Because gaslighting in the case of substance abusers is because of addiction, when a person seeks help to recover from addiction, they regain control of their own lives, without having to resort to lying, hiding or distorting the truth. One of the key components of recovery at California Prime is to learn how to be honest with themselves and their loved ones, and to take responsibility for their own lives. With sustained support and guidance, it is possible to overcome addiction and stay sober for the long term.
If you recognize gaslighting tactics in yourself or your loved ones, seek help now!
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