Addict behavior can sometimes be real-life versions of games we played as children. Back then, it was all in fun. Now, it can be deadly serious. This 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’re playing.
Bluffing is a deceptive move in the game of poker that also appears in many other games of deception. It involves the pretense that everything is the way it should be, while in reality, you’re being duped. Bluffing is the most popular of all the addict games.
Hide and Seek
The addict’s game of hide and seek involves the addict concealing something and the people around him seeking an explanation or some evidence to account for a situation that just doesn’t make sense. As well as hiding information and hiding his or her addictive behavior, the addict will often hide the evidence of his or her 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 game of taboo is a way that the addiction can be kept secret. It’s also a way to keep family members in a position of enabling the substance user by threatening the risk of exposing the addiction, making the whistleblower responsible for the subsequent social shaming of the family.
How to cope: 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.
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.
How to cope: Protect yourself and your children first and foremost, not the addict. The real cops are there to help protect you if necessary.
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.