Discerning the Person from the Addiction

Addiction can take over a relationship, just as if it moved into the house, kicked the couple out of their bed, ate up all the food in the refrigerator, and didn’t let them leave.

It starts by taking over your partner. You think it’s your wife speaking when she says she can’t go to a party without a little bump, but it’s not. It’s her addiction. Your husband used to be good with money, but now his gambling is in charge. Your girlfriend used to be honest, now she lies all the time. It’s the alcoholism talking when he says he needs a drink.

If they didn’t used to be like this, you can be sure it’s the addiction that brought it on. In advanced cases, the original person is gone and all that’s left is an imposter. The addiction has taken over your loved one. The person you loved is missing and left this shell behind.

Now that evil is coming for you.

What do I mean? Do I mean you are going to be addicted, too? Well, maybe. You’re at risk for all kinds of problems: addiction, anxiety, depression, despair. Suffice it to say that very few people are changed for the better when they’re dealing with an addicted partner. It doesn’t bring out the best in you.

The name that’s used to describe what happens to you is codependency. Your partner is hooked on something, and you are hooked on them being hooked. It’s an addiction to someone else’s addiction. You’re caught in a maladaptive pattern of forgetting your needs and forgetting your partner’s real needs in favor of serving the addiction. At first, you don’t recognize what’s going on, and then you feel you can’t leave.

The first step in defending yourself and defeating this monster is to be able to discern the difference between your darling and the demon. It’s tricky at first, but even twins can be distinguished by those who know them.

Go through each and every one of your partner’s behaviors. Is this the man you know and love, with all his foibles, or is this the disease? Does the behavior serve health or sickness? Decency or despair? Be sure that you can keep them straight.

If you’re angry with your partner for succumbing to addiction, your anger is justified, but misdirected. It’s the addiction you should be angry with. I know, you want him to be responsible for his addiction. He isn’t and he can’t, but he is responsible for his recovery.
Now look at yourself and the things you’re doing. Do they support your partner or the illness? Be honest. If you’re going to lick this thing, you’re going to need to know what you are doing to promote it.

Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t make him addicted, even in cases where you were the first to give him the drug. You just reacted to the addiction by doing the natural thing, taking tender care of your partner and accommodating his or her natural needs. It was only later on that those needs became all consuming. It tricked you, until now. You’ve caught on.

Finally, get connected with the portions of your partner that remain illness-free. Look into his eyes and find his soul if you have to. Listen for that still small voice of vitality. Feel around for his strength. Once you’ve got a hold, don’t let go.

The next step is to take action against the addiction and support your partner. This is why you need to be able to tell the difference. Everything else you do is going to be based on knowing friend from foe.

Published by Keith R Wilson

I'm a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice with more than 30 years experience. My newest book is The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad. I recently published a workbook connected to it titled, How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again. I also have another self help book, Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments. I’ve also published two novels, a satire of the mental health field: Fate’s Janitors: Mopping Up Madness at a Mental Health Clinic, and Intersections , which takes readers on a road trip with a suicidal therapist. If you prefer your reading in easily digestible bits, with or without with pictures, I have created a Twitter account @theshrinkslinks. MyFacebook page is called Keith R Wilson – Author.

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