Addict Games That Frustrate and Manipulate Those Around Them

Recognize Addict Games by These Childhood Games

Young boy peeking from between his fingers
Addict games are no fun when you don't want to play. Scolpix / MMS

Addict games are real-life versions of games we played as children. Back then, it was all in fun. Now, it can be deadly serious. This humorous take on the metaphor of game-playing presents five of the most popular addict games that can hurt you if you don’t realize you are playing.

Game of Bluff

Bluff is a deceptive move in the game of poker, that also appears in many other games of deception. Bluff involves the pretense that everything is as you think it is, while in reality, you are being duped.

Bluff is the most popular of all the addict games.

In many ways, addiction is the ultimate game of deception, because becoming addicted means fooling yourself, as well as those around you. And just like a poker player, an addict will perfect the poker face, the butter-wouldn’t-melt facial expression and tone of voice that convinces you, at least long enough to give them the benefit of the doubt, that it is you who are in the wrong, for not trusting them.

More on the game of bluff:

Tip for winning at the addict game of bluff:

  • Trust your instincts and don’t go along with a lie to avoid conflict.

Game of Hide and Seek

The addict game of hide and seek involves the addict concealing something, and the people around them seeking an explanation, or some evidence, to account for a situation that just doesn’t make sense.

As well as hiding information, and hiding their addictive behavior, the addict will often hide the evidence of their addiction. People addicted to illegal drugs obviously have to be reasonably discreet in terms of where they store and keep their drugs and paraphernalia – needles, pipes etc, often hiding them from family members.

Alcoholics may have hidden bottles around the house. Sex addicts may hide their pornography, website links, or evidence of affairs.

The motives for playing hide and seek by someone with addiction seem obvious, until the evidence is found, and a family member wonders how the addict expected the evidence not to be found. Later, the addicted person will often admit that they wanted to caught, either because it added to the excitement of what they were doing, or because they really wanted help.

More on the game of hide and seek:

Tip for winning at the game of hide and seek:

  • Respect your loved one’s privacy, but when you stumble on the evidence of addiction, don’t accept a weak explanation or excuse.

Game of Taboo

The game of taboo is a way that the addiction can be kept secret, and keep their family members in a position of enabling, by threatening the risk of exposing the addiction, and thus the whistle blower would be responsible for the subsequent social shaming on the family.

Just like the game of taboo, the addict creates a situation where speaking directly about what is happening is taboo, and thus forbidden. Playing taboo is common among families in which there is one or more alcoholic, some form of family violence is occurring, and in which sexual abuse, and in particular incest occurs.

More on the game of taboo:

Tip for winning at the game of taboo:

  • Break the silence and tell someone who can help – a teacher, social worker, doctor, priest, or police officer. Or call a helpline for more advice.

Game of Cops and Robbers

Stealing is an activity that addicts sometimes resort to, usually, but not always, in desperation. Much of the theft that occurs through break-and-enters and street robberies is to finance drug addiction rather than to put food on the table. And the spouses of addicts are well aware of the missing cash from their wallets and purses, or from their joint bank account.

But the game of cops and robbers is not limited to theft – people with addictions break the law through drug possession and trafficking, through indiscretions on the internet, and parents may be unaware of their legal responsibility for vandalism carried out by their children when under the influence.

More on the game of cops and robbers:

Tip for winning at the game of cops and robbers:

  • Protect yourself and your children first and foremost, not the addict. The real cops are there to help protect you if necessary.

Game of Stuck in the Mud

Addicts can stay stuck in their addiction for many years. Their determination not to change can be astounding. And just like the childhood game of stuck in the mud, if they get to you, you can get stuck too.

It is natural for change to take time and to progress through stages. But if you get stuck with them, you may actually be keeping them stuck, too. Often, it is only when consequences, such as the loss of a relationship, are recognized by the addict, that they will actually move into action.

More on the game of stuck in the mud:

Tip for winning at the game of stuck in the mud:

  • You don’t have to leave the person with an addiction – although it is a good idea if they are abusive – but do move on with your own life.

The concept of addict games is not based on scientific research, although the interactions described are commonly experienced by people close to those with addictions. Game playing in relationships is not inevitable for anyone, regardless of whether they have an addiction. This article is intended to provide support to people who are struggling to cope with someone else's addiction, not to stigmatize any type of addiction.

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