Addictive behavior can sometimes be a real version of games we played as kids. Back then everything was fun. Now it can be dead serious. This take on the gaming metaphor presents five of the most popular addicting games that can hurt you if you don’t realize you’re playing.
Bluffing is a deceptive poker game of chess that also appears in many other games of deception. It includes the pretext that everything is as it should be when in reality you are being betrayed. Bluffing is the most popular of all addicting games.
In many ways, addiction is the ultimate game of deception because becoming addicted is about deceiving yourself and the people around you.
And just like a poker player, an addict will perfect the poker face, expression, and tone that won’t melt you that will convince you, at least long enough to give them the benefit of doubting that it’s you wrong because I don’t trust them.
How to cope: Trust your instincts and don’t lie to avoid conflict.
hide and seek
The addict’s game of hide and seek involves the addict hiding something and people around him looking for an explanation or evidence to explain a situation that just doesn’t make sense. In addition to hiding information and hiding their addictive behavior, the addict often also hides the evidence of their addiction.
Obviously, people who are addicted to illegal drugs need to be reasonably discreet about where they keep and store their drugs and utensils – needles, pipes, etc. Often times, they hide them from family members. Alcoholics may have hidden bottles around the house. Sex addicts can hide their pornography, website links, or evidence on affairs.
The motives for hiding addicts seem obvious until the evidence is found and a family member wonders how the addict expected the evidence not to be found.
How to cope: Respect your loved one’s privacy, but if you encounter any signs of addiction, don’t accept a weak explanation or apology.
The taboo game is a way to keep addiction a secret. It is also a way of empowering family members to empower the substance user by threatening the risk of exposure to the addiction and blaming the whistleblower for the family’s subsequent social disgrace...
Just like the taboo game, the addict creates a situation where it is taboo and therefore forbidden to speak directly about what is happening.
Playing taboo is common in families where there are one or more alcoholics, some form of domestic violence, and where sexual abuse, and especially incest, occurs.
How to cope: Break the silence and tell someone who can help – a teacher, social worker, doctor, priest, or police officer – or call a hotline for more advice.
Police and robbers
Stealing is an activity that addicts resort to sometimes, usually, but not always, in despair..Much of the theft caused by break-ins and street robberies is to fund the drug addiction rather than putting food on the table. And the spouses of addicts are aware of the lack of cash from their wallets and purses or from their joint bank account.
The game of cops and robbers isn’t just limited to theft, however – people with addictions break the law through drug possession and trafficking, through online indiscretions, and parents may be unaware of their legal responsibility for vandalizing their children under the law.
How to cope: First and foremost, protect yourself and your children, not the addict. The real cops are there to protect you when necessary.
Stuck in the mud
Addicts can get stuck in their addiction for many years..Your determination not to change can be amazing. And just like childhood game of getting stuck in the mud, if they reach you, you can get stuck too.
It is natural that changes take time and are gradual. But if you get stuck together with your loved one, you may also hold onto them.
Often they only become active when consequences such as the loss of a relationship are recognized by the addict.
How to cope: You don’t have to leave the person with an addiction – although if it is abusive is a good idea – get on with your own life.
Note: The concept of addiction games is not based on scientific research, although the interactions described are often experienced by people close to addicts. Playing in relationships is not a matter of course for anyone, regardless of whether they are addicted or not. This article is intended to assist people who are struggling to cope with someone else’s addiction and not to stigmatize any type of addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Drug Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
You can find additional mental health resources in our National Helpline Database.