Simultaneously dealing with gaslighting and addiction can be difficult and complicated. Understanding how to deal with gaslighting in a relationship, regardless of if it’s platonic, familial, or romantic, starts with understanding what exactly gaslighting is. 

Being gaslighted can especially make you feel crazy when it comes from someone with an addiction. To avoid falling into this trap, you must learn the ins and outs of gaslighting and its relationship with mental health and addiction. 

What Is Gaslighting? 

The term gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. While gaslighting, many individuals manipulate a person or group of people into thinking the truth is a figment of their imagination. For instance, a spouse of someone trying to cover up an addiction may notice that money is disappearing from their joint bank account. 

Instead of fessing up to taking money out of their joint bank account to feed his or her addiction, a gaslighter with an addiction will convince his or her spouse that the loss of money in the bank account is all in that person’s head. Gaslighting spouses in this situation that suffer from addiction may even convince their loved ones that they spent the money on bills or any other justifiable expense rather than telling the truth. 

The Origin of the Term Gaslighting 

During the middle of the 20th century, a movie named “Gaslight” came out. This film emerged as a film that would lodge an evergreen concept throughout the world. This film-noir begins with the murder of a famous opera singer, Alice. Her murder becomes a cold case, yet is not forgotten by her niece, Paula. Not too long after Alice’s murder, Paula becomes romantically involved with a man named Gregory. 

Paula notices strange occurrences when she moves in with Gregory to a foreign country. She hears footsteps in the attic and sees flickering gaslights. Gregory convinces her that she’s imagining it all. With the help of an inspector, Paula realizes that everything Gregory tells her she’s imagining is real despite his attempt to cover the truth. This is the essential part of gaslighting, being made to feel like you’re crazy for your thoughts and feelings when you aren’t.  

What It’s Like to Deal With Gaslighting 

Gaslighting can put the truth behind a situation or someone’s memory into question as a form of a power grab. Those suffering from gaslighting may experience the following: 

  • Catching the gaslighter in small lies 
  • Finding themselves constantly apologizing even though they are in the right
  • Being isolated from one’s own family and friends from the gaslighter. 
  •  Going back and forth between being treated coldly one minute from a gaslighter and then being showered with affection another minute from a gaslighter. 
  • Being met with extreme defensiveness when bringing up the truth 
  • Having evidence that a gaslighter is lying and then having that evidence refuted by the gaslighter. 
  • Being convinced that one has some character flaw that ties into the gaslighter’s lies  
  • Suddenly missing expensive items 
  • Experiencing a declining sense of mental health the more a person spends with a gaslighter.  

It’s difficult to know how to deal with gaslighting because victims of it are typically unaware of what’s happening. For this reason, many gaslighting victims may struggle with understanding what’s going on. This is despite an overwhelming feeling that something is terribly wrong. 

Gaslighting becomes even more complicated when it’s done by a romantic partner. This is because one’s feelings for another person will often cloud that person’s judgment. It’s not uncommon for victims of gaslighting to suffer silently until a friend or family member sheds light on the situation. 

What Is the Relationship Between Gaslighting, Mental Health, and Addiction? 

girl-gaslighting-friend

Gaslighters that suffer from substance use disorders experience a complete rewiring of their brains, making maintaining good mental health and abstaining from drugs and alcohol an issue. As a result, non-gaslighters may gaslight people that are typically gaslighters to feed their additions. 

It’s clear that the mental health of victims of gaslighting becomes affected when people can’t trust their feelings or perception of reality. As addiction affects not just the person with an addiction, but those close to them, victims will likely not be able to change a manipulator’s ways alone. Even when they realize that they’re being gaslighted, they might still not know how to deal with gaslighting. 

Gaslighting and Mental Health 

in regards to mental health, individuals with mental illness may engage in gaslighting regularly to get what they want. Sociopaths or those with narcissistic personality disorders have a lack of regard for people’s feelings. Sociopaths, or narcissists, may lie to get what they want, no matter how it affects those around them. 

There are hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from personality disorders. Up to 73% of patients with substance use disorders also struggle with personality disorders, which makes the tendency to gaslight those around them even more likely. 

Is a Narcissist Gaslighting You? 

Woman suffering from gaslighting and addiction

Narcissism can be mistaken for confidence, especially when it comes from a loved one. Yet when a loved one’s sense of self-importance makes those around him or her question the truth, it could be gaslighting. 

Narcissists that gaslight those around them aren’t uncommon because they don’t care about others’ feelings. As a result, a narcissist may convince himself or herself that the lies that he or she is telling are for the greater good. 

Is a narcissist gaslighting you? These telltale signs can help you figure it out: 

  • They tell you that your feelings are selfish 
  • A narcissist will constantly need to be admired
  • Narcissists will lie to make themselves look better or make their lives easier 
  • Criticism in any form against a narcissist will cause them to become overly-defensive

Narcissism is a psychological condition, so people with this disorder can’t help themselves. Yet, if they won’t accept help, victims shouldn’t endure their psychological abuse. Instead, people need to set ultimatums and create hard boundaries if they choose to forgive a narcissist. 

Gaslighting and Addiction 

People with substance use disorders will typically stop at nothing to continue drinking or doing drugs. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that this is a symptom of substance use disorders, meaning that addiction is a medical condition. It’s important to understand that addiction is a medical condition, instead of a character flaw. 

While a substance use disorder is a medical condition, it doesn’t eliminate the fact that it hurts people outside of the one with an addiction. Gaslighting is a common occurrence among those dealing with an individual who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Thus, gaslighting is harmful not only to victims’ psyches but also to the gaslighter with an addiction. As they continue to lie about their drug addiction, they put their mental and physical health at risk as they refuse to seek help. 

How to Stop Gaslighting

Realize You’re a Victim of Gaslighting 

Feeling worthless and like you’re constantly wrong may mean that you’re a victim of gaslighting. Try to track down when you find yourself in these situations. Do you find yourself constantly feeling like a burden around a particular person? Does someone have a track record of dramatic fallouts with individuals, but justifies the reason why? Figure out who is gaslighting you first and foremost. 

Don’t Let Yourself Be a Victim 

After identifying the issue, it’s time to learn how to stop gaslighting. This first starts with being an advocate of yourself. Don’t doubt the truth, particularly if there is evidence behind its validity. Get in the practice of not apologizing for what doesn’t need one. Furthermore,  Make sure to talk to friends and family about the situation that you’re in. Most importantly, don’t let the manipulator convince you of lies. 

Seek Professional Help  

It’s difficult to know how to stop gaslighting, which is doubly true when the abuser has a substance use disorder. Instead of depending on friends or family (or worse–yourself), seek help from medical professionals. 

Therapists, in particular, can stop victims of gaslighting get consumed by feelings of doubt and lack of self-worth. Plus, therapists,  can help manipulators realize their wrongdoings. Addiction treatment centers have therapists that can help people overcome abuse and help abusers overcome addiction. 

Set Boundaries With The Gaslighter 

Once the victim of gaslighting and the manipulator have identified the problem, it’s essential to set boundaries. What will happen when the manipulator oversteps boundaries? If the abuser doesn’t get help or accept boundaries, it may be time to cut ties with them as a whole. 

How to Deal with Gaslighting in a Relationship

Deal with gaslighting in a relationship

Dealing with gaslighting alone is a feat in itself. Knowing how to deal with gaslighting in a relationship adds another layer of difficulty to overcome. Using the steps aforementioned can help, but there are added actions individuals should take to protect their mental health. 

  1. Don’t allow romantic gestures to sway your opinion – Gaslighters will manipulate significant others with grand gestures. They manipulate the feelings of others with actions that may make their significant others forget about the psychological abuse. 
  2. Trust your friends and family – If your friends and family are telling you that your significant other is manipulative, trust them. People in love have rose-colored glasses on in regards to their significant other. You may not realize your significant other is gaslighting you, but those close to you likely will. 
  3. Seek out couples therapy – No matter what the manipulator says, make sure to go to a therapist that specializes in helping couples. If the person refuses to go, don’t feel guilty about breaking up with that person. Your sanity isn’t worth the trouble. 
  4. Put physical distance in between yourself and your significant other – Even if your significant other is gaslighting you without physical abuse, it’s still abuse. If there is a friend or family member you can stay with for some time, make sure you do so. This can help you figure out if you’d like to stay with your significant other and heal the psychological wounds they’ve inflicted on you.  

Harmony Ridge Can Show You How to Deal with Gaslighting and Addiction 

Gaslighters and their victims need professional help to heal emotional wounds or destructive behaviors. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and gaslighting, Harmony Ridge can help. Contact us now to find out how our team of medical professionals can help people face the truth and overcome substance use disorders in the long term. 

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