A progressively worsening drinking or drug problem will cause changes in people’s behavior and personality, eventually reaching a point where you no longer understand the decisions they make. Sadly, most people in the grips of active addiction are willing to do anything to hide their mounting problems – including gaslighting loved ones.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that can leave you questioning your sanity, memories or perception of reality. Someone who gaslights others deliberately sows doubt and confusion until their victims are no longer sure what to believe. Learning more about gaslighting techniques and warning signs can help you break the cycle of abuse.
Warning Signs of Gaslighting
Gaslighting isn’t always easy to recognize, especially since it can start with minor things before escalating into manipulative patterns. No matter what techniques they use, the person gaslighting you generally wants you to doubt yourself, depend on their version of events and go along with what they want you to do.
- Minimalizing: A gaslighter will trivialize your emotions, brushing off your concerns as unimportant and refusing to validate your feelings as authentic.
- Questioning: They challenge your memory of events, inventing new details or denying what happened. They might also blame you for problems they caused.
- Refusing: They rebuff your attempts to broach the topic or accuse you of trying to confuse them.
- Distraction: When you mention being worried about their drinking or drug habits, they quickly change the subject or flip the script by saying the problems are all in your mind.
- Forgetfulness and denial: When you mention a specific harmful incident or something they said, they might claim they can’t remember or tell you it never happened at all.
- Discrediting: They tell friends and family that you can’t remember things correctly, get confused easily or tend to make things up.
You might be a gaslighting victim if you frequently hear phrases like this from someone in your life.
- “You must be imagining things. That’s not what happened.”
- “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
- “No need to be so sensitive. I was only joking.”
- “You’re so forgetful.”
- “I never said that. Stop putting words in my mouth.”
When you suspect someone in your life is trying to gaslight you, documenting your interactions can help you maintain your grasp on reality. When they deny saying or doing something, having concrete proof will allow you to double-check the truth for yourself. Luckily, most of us carry a smartphone that allows us to save or take screenshots of texts and emails, snap photos of property damage and record conversations.
How to Put an End to Gaslighting
Relationships involving addiction and gaslighting can devolve into toxicity and abuse. You do not deserve to experience this dishonesty, deception and emotional manipulation, especially if it is causing you mental anguish by making you doubt your stability.
If your loved one is destroying your trust and their well-being by continuing to drink or use drugs, contact us at Pillars Recovery. We provide supportive, separate communities where men and women can get accredited substance use and mental health treatment in California.