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Relationship Conflict, Addiction, and Recovery

When properly cultivated, our interpersonal relationships can be vital to our success in recovery. On the other hand, conflict in our relationships can leave us emotionally unstable, with our sobriety hanging in the balance. Discord and disagreements in our relationships typically provoke intense emotions. In early recovery, we may feel as though we have no way to cope with these emotions and fall back into old patterns. We fight with loved ones, we feel pain, and we pick up our drugs of choice. 

When we’re sad about a relationship or grieving the loss of an important relationship, we instinctively want to get high or act compulsively to numb our pain. Our drugs of choice can be addictive substances, or they can be compulsive behaviors. Behavioral addictions are often referred to as “process addictions”. These addictions include behaviors like shoplifting, eating, or gambling. As we’re working to recover, the conflicts in our relationships can be major triggers for relapse. Likewise, our addictive patterns themselves are often fueled by the turmoil of our social lives

Inner Turmoil and Negative Energy

Our relationships are a reflection of who we are, what we think, what our belief systems are, and how we operate in the world. If our relationships are tumultuous and full of dysfunction, there is likely some inner turmoil we have yet to heal. Our emotional pain can manifest unhealthy relationships in our lives, and those relationships can cause us even more pain. Thus continues the recurring cycle of conflict and dysfunction. We feel a lot of tension and discomfort in our relationships, especially our closest relationships. Disagreements, fights, and misunderstandings frequently disrupt our relationships. These issues include big problems that are foundational to the relationship and smaller, more insignificant problems. If we pay attention, we can feel the negative energy building. Over time, it builds up, causing all of our individual energies to become increasingly toxic. Everyone involved becomes unhappy, anxious, angry, and stressed.

To make matters worse, many of our important relationships are filled with addiction. Often, we’re living, working, and socializing with other addicts. All of us are struggling with similar issues, yet we enable each other’s addictive patterns. Our addictions feed off each other and contribute to each other’s emotional difficulties. This leads to increased tensions and perpetuates the addiction cycle.

Emotional Comfort and Relief

With these relationship dynamics, we’re often looking for something that feels comforting. Our relationships, toxic and otherwise, are attempts to find emotional relief. We look for ways to numb our difficult feelings and drown out our troublesome thoughts. We look for something to slow down our racing thoughts and stop us from worrying and obsessing. In the moment, we’re overwhelmed by sadness, confusion, guilt, and resentment. After a fight, we struggle to forgive the other person for how they treated us. Instead, we struggle with shame and regret over how we handled the conflict. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we take up a defensive posture and stand our ground. Our relationships do not improve, and our recovery suffers.  

Sense of Self

Sometimes the emotional patterns in our relationships exacerbate our relationships with ourselves. For example, we might be unkind to each other when we argue, and that can compound our feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and self-rejection. We can come to hate ourselves because our partner is unkind to us. Our sense of self suffers, and we can’t recognize our worth. We have low self-esteem and lack confidence and self-assuredness. Ultimately, we learn that a healthy sense of self has to come from within. Although we want to love ourselves unconditionally, the way other people treat us can impact how we see ourselves. We can be very deeply impacted by how we’re treated in relationships, especially when we’re still healing and learning to love ourselves.

Healing Internal and Relationship Conflict

The more we heal, we discover that we are each responsible for our own happiness and that our self-worth must come from within. As we learn to value and respect ourselves, we come to expect the same from our relationships. We attract healthier relationships and feel better emotionally. Many of us decide to disconnect from those people who can’t treat us with respect.

We learn how to express ourselves better and share our thoughts and feelings with others. Recovery teaches us to resolve conflicts peacefully. Instead of ignoring those around us, we practice listening mindfully and being present with our loved ones. We learn how to disagree without attacking. Walking a mile in another man’s shoes and respecting the ideas of others become vital practices in our lives. We learn the importance of not taking things personally. Our communication skills grow, and we learn the value of collaborative discussion. Every difference of opinion does not need to explode into a fiery debate. Discussions replace arguments. We cultivate our compassion, understanding, patience, and empathy.

The more peace we have in our relationships, the more our relationships add to our happiness, stability, and peace of mind. Our well-being improves, and we find ourselves better prepared to fight our addictions. When we have clarity and harmony in our relationships, we have the space we need to focus on our healing and recovery. 

If you’re sick and tired of experiencing drama in your personal life, why not try something new? The addicted lifestyle makes it incredibly difficult to develop healthy relationships, so it may be time to learn a new way of life. At The Guest House Ocala, we are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse and process addictions in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.