Many of us struggling with addictions and mental health issues use our relationships in unhealthy ways. This can have a lot to do with our deeper issues, and our relationships and other challenges often mirror each other. What are some of the ways we use our relationships that are similar to how our addictions function?
When we seek comfort in a relationship, we’re doing the same thing we do when we seek comfort in a drug, alcohol or other addictive substance or behavior. We’re looking for nurturing outside of ourselves. This is damaging because we don’t learn to rely on ourselves for emotional stability. We don’t learn emotional resilience, and we have a hard time finding balance. We become dependent on other people and things, and when we don’t have them, we fall apart.
Relationships can be a form of escapism for many of us, just as our addictions can. When we don’t want to confront our difficult issues, we retreat into relationships to distract us from them. It can be much easier to focus on the good feelings of love, affection and sex, and even the drama and turmoil of unhealthy relationships, than it is to do the internal work of resolving our issues and healing our wounds. When there are things we don’t want to address, we escape into our relationships instead. Avoidance becomes one of our go-to coping mechanisms.
The thrill of the “high” that comes from relationships can function in our lives in very similar ways to drugs and alcohol. We become dependent upon the euphoric rush we get from feel-good chemicals and hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. We feel empty and alone when we don’t have the object of our addiction. We don’t feel whole or complete within ourselves. After the high is gone, we can crash, feeling low, sad and lonely.
Our relationships are often unhealthy because we haven’t yet learned the important lessons of self-love and self-respect. We are living with inner turmoil, and since we attract into our outer world what we are experiencing within, we often manifest tumultuous relationships full of conflict and misunderstanding. We are not at peace within ourselves, and our relationships reflect this. We often will prioritize the issues in our relationships over our own healing. The relationship can become our main focal point, our obsession. The longer we avoid looking at our deeper issues, the worse they get. On top of that, our relationships create even more issues for us to unpack and further complicate and worsen the existing issues we haven’t yet resolved.
Recovery means analyzing our relationships and how they function in our lives alongside our addictions. Call (800) 871-5440.