Addiction and Toxic Relationships

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, drugs, food, money, internet addiction or toxic relationships. We admitted that our lives had become unmanageable.  For 12-steppers, that singular admission is the only step that needs to be perfect before true healing can begin.

A compelling reason why life is unmanageable is that of toxic relationships.  There is nothing like being active in addiction to supply both the toxicity and the companion.  Time to take inventory of who you’re hanging out with.  After all, you can’t be healthier than those you choose to routinely spend time with.  The company you keep reflects what your life is like. The people with whom you are most intimate reveal much about who you are.

How is addiction related to toxic relationships?

How are toxic relationships related to alcohol and drugs? A toxic relationship is any relationship which enables your addiction. If it diminishes you as a human being, then it undermines your potential. Toxic relationships come together in a cauldron of fear, insecurity, and familiarity.

A relationship cannot be strong when all you have to bring to the table is the weakness of addiction.  If you do not address this state of being with treatment or counseling it is simply not possible for a healthy relationship to thrive.  Typically, the addict gravitates towards a “using companion” and together their lives spiral downwardly and both will lose control. It is important to acknowledge the signs of a toxic relationship and distance these people from your life.

Am I in a toxic relationship?

It’s not quite as simple as “does my relationship make me happy or does it makes me sad.”  When you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs and in a relationship with a “using companion,” you can actually feel extremely happy.  That happiness, however, is a mirage covering up all kinds of dysfunction, pain, and fear that brought you to your addiction in the first place.  Nevertheless, your addiction and disease will accept that as happiness.

How do you know you’re in a toxic relationship when you think you are so damn happy? Think about your worst character traits.  Do the close relationships you have act indifferently to the worst things about you or are they supportive of them?  If they are one or both, you may want to reconsider and reevaluate those relationships because they certainly will undermine your recovery.  Ultimately you are making an informed decision about whether or not you are taking good care of yourself.

How do I set myself free of my toxic relationship?

Believe it or not, sometimes you have to physically move.  I have had toxic personal relationships with some people where the only way out was a restraining order.  It happens. The important thing is to save yourself.  You can’t always save someone else, you can try but your best bet is using your energy to try and save you and all the good stuff will follow. In toxic relationships, we are sometimes faced with the decision of staying or leaving.

How can I find the courage to take care of myself in difficult situations?  These are not decisions you need to make alone and shouldn’t have to.  If you cannot afford the individualized treatment that inpatient facilities offer or outpatient counseling then there are options.  If you need a place to turn when friends and family are not available, get to the next and nearest 12-step meeting in your area that most closely pertains to your situation.  At that meeting, I would encourage you to find the bravery to share your experience and what is going on with you.  You can be sure your words will fall upon helpful and sympathetic ears. At the very least you will find comfort in not being alone and that others share your experience in one way or another.

How do I get into a toxic relationship?

If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol and looking for a toxic relationship, you probably don’t have to look far or wide.  Let’s face it, there are people who actually enjoy chaos in their life.  They seem to be drawn to it and thrive on drama and craziness.  There are people out there who seem to live to make the lives of others miserable.  Then there are the passive aggressive people whose communication style makes you sometimes want to strangle.  Unfortunately, there is no specific program for these folks…but there probably should be.

If you struggle with any of these issues, please call us at 866-983-3651.  For more information about our addiction and toxic relationships programs, go to our Web site.

– Barry Diamond, Writer/Comedian/Actor

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