Our close personal relationships can play multiple different roles in the development of our addictions. While we can’t blame anyone else or any particular relationship for the fact that we struggle with addiction, many of us do have relationships that trigger us, that fuel our addictive patterns and enable them, and that contribute to the depression and other mental health issues underlying our addictions. In addition, our relationships can function just like addictions, and we become dependent on the relationship itself just as we might an addictive substance or behavior. What do our relationships have to do with our addictions?
For many of us struggling with addiction, we tend to find ourselves in extremely toxic relationships. We form codependent relationships filled with unhealthy attachment and neediness rather than mutually supportive partnerships. We often have poor communication skills, and we lack an understanding of healthy conflict resolution. Our relationships are often filled with volatility, control, manipulation, dishonesty, even abuse and violence. We experience abuse that is mental, emotional or physical, or some combination thereof. We might both be abusing each other, as is often the case.
Our relationships can be a major driving force behind our addictions. We are desperate to relieve the pain we’re feeling. We use drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or whatever our drug of choice might be in order to distract ourselves from our pain and try to escape it. We self-medicate and use our addictive habits to numb ourselves to all of the difficult thoughts and feelings we’re experiencing but are often too afraid to fully confront. We can’t blame our relationships for our addictions, but we often are driven to our drugs of choice by the pain we’re feeling in these relationships.
Sometimes the relationship itself functions like an addiction, and we feel so addicted to our partner that we can’t let them go, even when we know we should, even when we’re severely depressed, even when the relationship dynamic is tearing us apart and destroying us. Many of us identify as love and sex addicts, where our drugs of choice are dating, sex and romantic relationships. We become obsessive, compulsive, clingy and toxically dependent. We tell ourselves that we can’t function without this other person. We feel as though we can’t live without them. Our addictions and our addictive relationships can function together to create vicious recurring cycles and addictive patterns that we can’t seem to extricate ourselves from.
Learning more about our relationship patterns can help us examine our overall issues with addiction, thereby helping us to free ourselves.
Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.