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Can You Be Addicted to a Person?

UserPost

4:52 pm
October 3, 2001


mari

New Member

posts -1

I have never done this before, so I'm a little nervous. I had an absolutely wonderful childhood with very supportive parents and siblings. I still have close, loving relationships with them. I also consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. I went to college and earned a Psychology degree. The problem is, I think I am addicted to this guy. We have been very close friends and lovers for about 9 years now. He is a cocaine addict. He has even been to prison for this, and through it all, I have stood by him. I have bailed him out of so many situations, I can't count them anymore. I have never been a drug user, so it was always hard for me to understand why he kept on hurting his family, friends and me. He did try to explain that even if he were completely sober and felt like he needed to do coke, he would still steal from his family, knowing what the consequences would be and how much everyone would be hurt. He said it was almost like a panic attack. I kind of know how he feels now because that's how I feel about cutting him out of my life. I know full well that that is what I have to do, but I get completely panicky whenever I think of it. We have even discussed this and have both agreed that we should not see each other anymore at all. I am very good about not calling him, but then he will call after about 2 weeks. I absolutely cannot refuse him. We end up seeing each other, and then I end up feeling depressed. I feel like I'm taking one step up and two steps back. My friends all tell me that if I just stay away from him, I'll feel better in time. This is not the case. I usually feel much worse as time goes by. At any rate, I feel like I am addicted to a person and I cannot shake this. I also can't figure out how I got into such a situation in the first place.

5:13 pm
October 3, 2001


Molly

New Member

posts -1

your experiencing withdrawls, and yes you can in a way become addicted to a person.
These people are exciting, generally fun, make you feel important, drown you with what ever your personal button is, and that is why it is so hard to walk away, just like candy, its so good, makes you feel happy, and then the crash, but you still go for more.
The thing is for the last 9 years, you have lived through him,his caretaker his rescuer, watching him, cleaning him up, monitoring him, his mommy, in some respects, and there is a gain there, but you need to identify it for your self, it really is easier to controll some one elses life, and always be right, vs live your own. You sound like you got caught in a dance of codependency. He is the addict, but he is your drug.
There are so many reasons and whys, and ways that you hooked up with this guy, and like I always say, when your sick and tired of feeling sick and tired you will create change. So, now your starting the change, but just like the addict going through withdrawls, 9 years is a long time, and no matter how bad it was there was those good days. but you know its never going to change, and your done with it.
Mother Molly says, number on try an Alanon meeting go a few times, it kills time, you might meet some people, you might learn something. Do not comunicate with this person for a minimum of 21 days, and why you would after that is beyond me, but no phone calls, do not receive his calls, no e-mails, no oh I forgot my chair at his apt, no contact what so ever. Join a gym, exercise will take up time, work off energy and allow you to sleep. Go to Dr. Irenes web page, go to Coda meetings, go out with your girls friends, but stay busy doing positive things for you, and yes stay away from him. Make lists of all of your money he has cost you, and what you would have if not bailing him out. Make a list of all the fights when he was coked up, or crashing. Make a list of what the coke has cost over the years. make a list of what your dream man looks like, and how this guy doesn't fit the list, sorry addicted to coke, is automatically -1000 points. Reclaim your life reclaim you, it can be done, and honey your not the first and won't unfortunately be the last . and if your worried about him, trust me, he will find another person just like you, they are every where, so its time to be a strong woman, claim the life you deserve. He just fooled you for a long time, it willget better.

5:13 pm
October 3, 2001


pill

New Member

posts -1

This sounds familiar… the first thing I think of is "What are your REWARDS in this relationship?"

hmmm there must be something that keeps you addicted. Like nicotine and cigs, alchohol and drinks… Are you fulfilled by rescuing him? Does taking care of him fill your need to be a mother? Do you have children?

If you got nothing out of it, it's likely you could shake him easily.

do you have other sources of intimacy and physical affection? Do you andy our friends hug?

5:40 pm
October 3, 2001


Guest

posts

Mari.

I am convinced from my own experience and that of others that I have known that addiction to another person is a very real affliction. It is often misconstrued as "love".

Since you have a Psychology degree, you are in a good position to research this topic. I think you will find that your answer will lie in the emotional memories stored in the amygdala in the mid brain.

I believe that emotional memories combine to form a set pattern or 'template'. When concurrently triggered by a set of sensory signals, these emotional memories set off a craving response. 'Love at first sight', I believe, can be explained in this way. However, sometimes it seems that there is a slow process wherein this template recognition is delayed for sometime into the relationship. But once recognition occurs the craving starts when parted from the 'loved' one.

You sound like you are at the stage wherein your cognitions are in conflict with your emotions – you recognise the insanity of continuing the relationship yet you cannot let go of the person. Does it feel like you are locked in a life and death struggle? Does the thought of never seeing this person again strike fear into your heart? If so then the hint here is that the 'craving' is survival based.

To make sense out of this fear I think one has to look at the survival responses, that evolution has programmed into a young child. When mum and dad ran out of the cave a child instinctively ran after them. Thus the child survived a mauling from the bear therein. The child that didn't instinctively flee with the parents never survived to pass on their faulty genes.

Thus when the template of your parents laid down so long ago is retriggered in you by a particular person whom you are in danger of losing, fear of being 'left behind in the cave' generates a powerful signal to the cognitions for the manufacture of a 'good reason' for a 'reunification'. In order to dissipate the cognitive dissonance that triggers fear of personal incompetence, inefficacy or even 'insanity', we then tend to place a high priority on rationalizing of the irrational behavior.

Trying to make this kind of relationship to work results in a vicious spiral of 'pushing away and pulling towards' that leads downwards into depression and despair.

Does any of this make sense to you? If so then I hope it helps you. Otherwise please disregard my posting.

5:48 pm
October 3, 2001


mari

New Member

posts -1

Thanks Molly. I feel validated. I'm also realizing that all those times I yelled at him, "Why won't you walk away from it?" I should've been asking myself the same question. Never thought I'd be going through withdrawls in my lifetime. It really sucks. He still has a few of my things at his house, and I'm just going to take the loss. They're just things and they can be replaced. Pill, I don't have children, never thought I wanted any. But maybe I misjudged the power of that whole nurturing thing. I do, thank God, have affectionate friends that I can count on. My family is really affectionate too, so maybe this won't be so bad. I don't know though, this is going to be pretty hard.

5:57 pm
October 3, 2001


mari

New Member

posts -1

Tez, It makes complete sense. That's why I feel so helpless about the situation. Cognitively, I know what has to be done. The act of actually leaving and staying away is what's tripping me up.

8:57 pm
October 3, 2001


Molly

New Member

posts -1

Tez, gosh I love his clarity, yea its hard to get the head and heart in balance. i have been struggling with that my self. But it can be done. When I left my husband the first time,I was also dealing with empty nest syndrome, the death of my mother, dad was all ready gone, the sale of my house, and potential bankruptsy, job change, and new location where I knew no one, after sitting for a while, and I joke autistically, it was truly the greatest time in at least three decades, so hang in there, there is light and a rainbow waiting for you.
damn programing

6:38 pm
October 4, 2001


Guest

posts

Mari.

Fear of suffering kept me in my addictive relationship for a long time. If I left my girlfriend, which I had done many times and then made up, I would suffer intense pain. If I stayed in the relationship, I would also suffer intense pain. Either way, I felt trapped!!!! What freed me was the realisation that I was going to have intense pain no matter what I did. I then realised that one set of painful circumstances led to recovery and well being whilst the other led to my destruction. Guess which set of circumstances was which!!! So I bit the bullet and chose the course that led to my recovery and I did recover dispite my misgivings about ever doing so.

However, I have a healthy respect for the power of my emotions to put me back into the same hell. Now I've learnt that my emotions will not be dictated to nor stood over by my intellect. Now I've learnt how to cunningly nurture my emotions into a quiet state of contentment whilst with a non-toxic partner. Giving and receiving affection and love have replaced symbiotic craving and demands for relief of infantile, yet very real fears of abandonment. But, boy oh boy, the lessons have been hard and painfully learnt. Now, when sparks fly and heavenly bells ring upon making eye contact with that 'very special' person of the opposite sex, I run a mile and remind myself of the many good things that I have in my present relationship. I will no longer be duped into thinking that a 'paradise lost in infancy' can be regained in an adulthood relationship of any kind!!! I do my own parenting now.

What out for 'dem butterflys' that fly out of our proverbial rear ends at the site of that very special person – the 'template' ain't far away from causing a full blown attack of the infant cravings!!!

6:42 pm
October 4, 2001


Guest

posts

Molly.

Hi and thanks for the compliment. It sounds like you're travelling well.

10:51 pm
October 4, 2001


suds

New Member

posts -1

Read on Codependency. Join codependency discussions on other threads. you'll get a lot of wonderful insights and valuable words from recovering alcoholics, etc. and codependents alike.

9:56 am
October 5, 2001


mari

New Member

posts -1

Hey Tez, that makes a lot of sense. I suppose it's better to leave him and be miserable for a temporary amount of time than to stay with him and be miserable forever.

12:29 pm
October 5, 2001


Molly

New Member

posts -1

I have learned that there is a cost for every choice we make. You just gotta figure out what you want to pay.
I think your on the right track.

5:57 pm
October 5, 2001


Guest

posts

Mari.

I would not be so presumptuous to advise you what you should do about your relationship.

Speaking only for myself, I know that I can never have a close, intimate relationship with a person who triggers my deep seated and permanent emotional memories of abandonment into full arousal.

When confronted with a trigger source that closely matches my 'template' of my abandoning caregiver in my infancy, all my intellectual knowledge and learning is powerless to stop a full blown emotional arousal of fear. Heaven knows that I have tried.

My answer for myself is to avoid such powerful trigger sources like I avoid the plague. Other people with different sets of emotional memories may well be able to attend CODA or other self-help groups and learn how to maintain a relatively pain free relationship with such a toxic partner, but I cannot!!! Like a heroin addict can never learn to shoot up safely, nor an alcoholic learn to drink socially, I can never learn to live with a 'template' matching person without dire consequences for the state of my mental health.

You have my full empathy. That is why I have responded to you. I truly believe that I understand the depth of your pain.


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