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How Does Conflict Affect Our Sobriety?

Many of us who struggle with addiction and mental illness are also coping with conflict of some kind, whether it arises in our everyday lives because of problems in our relationships, or because there are issues we’ve been avoiding facing for years because the conflict is too overwhelming. We experience conflict not only in our romantic relationships, but also with business partners and coworkers, neighbors, associates, friends and family members. We form codependent attachments in relationships that aren’t romantic in nature, and we can find even our platonic relationships to be full of turmoil, confusion and discord. We find ourselves constantly bumping heads, disagreeing, arguing and fighting, even experiencing different forms of abuse. How does all of this conflict affect our sobriety?

When we’re in conflict with someone, we feel all kinds of difficult emotions that are hard for us to cope with, that we feel overwhelmed by and afraid to feel. We can feel anger, rage, sadness, grief, confusion and anxiety. We’re afraid we’ll lose the relationship. We’re afraid of being alone. We’re afraid of confrontation. We avoid talking about difficult things altogether and repeatedly sweep things under the rug. Many of us have a very hard time speaking our truth, especially when someone disagrees with us, silences us or makes us feel dominated or controlled. We shut down when we feel we have to defend ourselves or our truth. We use avoidance, denial and emotional suppression as coping mechanisms. Our inability to communicate and resolve our conflicts in healthy ways can cause us to resort to our addictions in order to manage.

We turn to our drugs of choice when we feel defeated in a relationship, when we’re feeling overwhelming anxiety and confusion about a relationship issue, when we’re arguing with a partner, and when we’re going through a break-up. We want to use when we’re feeling rejected or judged, when people are disappointed in us, and when we feel as though we’ve failed. We’re tempted to use when we feel misunderstood, when we’re feeling anxious about a confrontation we know we need to have, or when an issue is going unresolved. Any time we’re experiencing conflict that is destabilizing, stressful or traumatic for us, we instinctively want to use. It becomes an automatic response for us – whenever we feel the stress of conflict, our default instinct is to use.

When experiencing conflict, we feel ungrounded and uncentered. We don’t feel balanced or at peace within ourselves. Much of the conflict we’re experiencing is a manifestation of all the inner turmoil we’re having a hard time addressing. We feel at odds with ourselves and at war with ourselves. We beat ourselves up, criticize and judge ourselves. We feel insecure and hate ourselves, rejecting the parts of us that we don’t think are acceptable or good enough. We feel inadequate and unworthy. We might overly blame ourselves for the conflict in question, unable to forgive ourselves and feeling undeserving of other people’s forgiveness.

One thing we learn as we begin to heal is that as we get better at handling the conflicts in our lives, the better we feel and the better things turn out for us. We manifest from the inside out, creating our life circumstances from our internal environment. The conflict we see and feel in our lives is often a result of the inner turmoil and conflict we’re feeling within ourselves. Everything we think, feel and experience can be a catalyst for our addictive patterns, because we’ve developed patterns of dependence where we become reliant on our drug of choice to cope with anything we find difficult. Conflict can literally make us want to use, and it can contribute to relapse. Sometimes we might find ourselves using our addictions as an excuse, a justification or a scapegoat for our relapse, but that’s all part of the illness. We develop such an unhealthy relationship with our drug of choice that we don’t walk away even when we feel we’re able to. We give up trying and working at getting clean, blaming our addictions on our failure, when sometimes we’re not giving it our all. These patterns are part of the addiction, and addressing them helps us gain a better understanding around why conflict drives us to use.

It’s so important to develop healthy communication and conflict resolution skills in order to cope with any kind of conflict that arises in our lives. We can try therapy or mediation with the other party. We can try to approach the situation with the intention of solving the problem together, rather than debating one another, attacking each other, trying to win the argument and prove we’re right. We can make sure we’re making time for self-care and managing our own stress by including things like meditation, journaling and energy healing practices in our regular routines. We have to be diligent about our mental and emotional health, so that we don’t find ourselves using drugs or addictive behaviors to escape the inner turmoil we’re feeling and run from the interpersonal conflicts we’re experiencing.

The Guest House Ocala provides unparalleled, premier-quality treatment to those who suffer from self-defeating behaviors brought on by trauma and its underlying issues. We are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety and depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.