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When Our Relationship is Another Drug of Choice

Sometimes as we’re working to recover from our addictions, we have to do some soul-searching to determine if we have more than one drug of choice, if we’ve become dependent on a substance or behavior outside of our go-to drug of choice, and if we’re using our relationships in particular in addictive, dependent ways. Many of us discover that our relationships have become another drug of choice alongside the ones we typically associate with our addictions. We might identify as love and sex addicts, with relationships and sex being the major drug of choice we’re dealing with within our lives. We might simply be in relationships that feel addictive to us. We’re dealing with a unique set of challenges when our relationships become addictive in nature, challenges we want to understand more fully in order to help ourselves recover.

Isolation and Fear

The realization that our relationships are functioning as a drug of choice in our lives can be hard for many of us. It can be difficult to come to terms with, and we can find this element of our addictions to be a source of shame, embarrassment, and disappointment for us, in many of the same ways our more typical addictions can be. We feel there’s something deeply wrong with us that no one else can relate to. We don’t hear other people talking about this particular issue, and we can feel alone, weird and immoral. We can feel abnormal. We can feel isolated in our pain and feel as though no one understands us. We worry we’ll never recover from our addictions or have healthy relationships. We’re afraid we’ll never be happy.

Behavioral Addiction

When our relationship serves as a drug of choice, we can be just as compulsive, obsessive, needy and dependent on it as we can be when we’re addicted to a substance. Those struggling with behavioral addictions often called process addictions are familiar with how addictive a specific behavior can become, with gaming, gambling, shopping, and overeating being a few of the many examples of behaviors we can become addicted to. With relationships, it is very similar. We feel addicted to the behaviors within the relationship, the courting, the sex, the affection, even the conflict. We feel we can’t separate from this person, even when the dynamics between us have become toxic or even abusive. We feel like we can’t break up, no matter how hard we try. We can’t stop ourselves from seeing this person, or from being intimate with them. We can’t control our impulses around this person. We can feel as though our judgment is impaired. Behaviorally, and also mentally and emotionally, we can feel as though we’re totally out of control.

Emotional Conditioning

This can be a terrifying place to be, as we know from struggling with addictions of all kinds. We can feel deeply depressed, struggle with crippling anxiety, and suffer from insomnia and other stress-related conditions. Because we often struggle with underlying mental health issues in addition to our addictions, we don’t always have the clarity or awareness to realize when our relationships have become problematic. Many of us have been emotionally conditioned to believe that close relationships are naturally tumultuous and that all the conflict and other difficult experiences we’re having are normal and even healthy. We may never have had a healthy relationship before. We might not have developed effective conflict resolution, communication, and relationship-building skills. The relationships modeled to us may have themselves been full of addictive patterns. We may have learned that loving people is synonymous with needing and being dependent upon them. We might unconsciously equate loving and caring for people with being obsessive about them, trying to control them, and being dominating with them. We might see control as a form of protection, as our way of showing people that we’re there for them and that we care for them.

Codependence Impedes Recovery

In these specific kinds of relationships, when they are operating as one of the drugs of choice in our lives, we often have very codependent relationship dynamics, which can be especially problematic for our addiction recovery. We can be afraid to get sober because we think we can’t live without this other person. We can be afraid even to seek out help because we see trying to heal ourselves as a form of betrayal or abandonment. Our relationship has functioned like an addiction for so long, alongside our other addictions, that we can feel like separation, or sobriety would be forsaking the relationship. Addiction has been the very foundation of the relationship. Our lives have revolved around our drugs of choice. For many of us, sobriety can feel impossible for us, like something we simply can’t do for ourselves. How would we possibly live without this person? How would we live without our drugs of choice?

Our Interdependent Patterns

We use our relationships and our other drugs of choice in many of the same ways, often as coping mechanisms for the difficult things we’re going through in our lives. Just like addictive substances and behaviors, our relationships can provide things that we feel are beneficial, that we crave and that we become dependent upon. In these relationships, we can become addicted to the comfort, companionship, love, and affection, all of which are things we would naturally want to have, which in and of themselves are elements of a healthy relationship. It is our dependence upon them that can make them problematic when we feel as though we can’t live without this other person or let them go, even when it’s a toxic situation for us. We become addicted to the attention, to feeling affirmed by this other person. We love how nice it feels to be validated by someone we care about. We might feel as though we need a companion and that we can’t be on our own. Many of us fear being alone. Our relationships, just like any drug, can be our means of distracting ourselves from our painful emotions, of trying to escape whatever it is we’ve been avoiding, and of trying to make ourselves forget our pain. Our relationship patterns and our addictive patterns can very clearly and powerfully fuel one another and thrive off of each other. We use to cope with the pain of our relationships, and we retreat into our relationships to cope with the pain of our addictions.

At The Guest House Ocala, you will be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488