Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Relationship Model of Addiction

“An inherent limitation of the medical model is ignoring the fact that ‘pathological dependence’ implies that a relationship, one that is emotional and psychological in nature, has formed with the substance or activity (i.e. gambling, porn, etc.) The ‘pathological dependency’ is a pathological relationship, one in which there is continuous and increasing emotional involvement.”

The application of the disease concept to alcoholism, chemical dependency and addiction by the American Medical Association in 1956 marked a turning point in how addicts are viewed by treatment practitioners, significant others, the addicts themselves, as well the population at large. This turning point served to lessen the impact of stigma. There is less shame and secrecy associated now with being an addict, clearing the way towards seeking professional help. The shift in perception allowed for a more objective understanding of the disease and had a humanizing effect. The disease concept streamlined the process of assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

However, despite its reliance on objective, measurable data and tried and proven research, and beyond meeting the necessary criteria to be labeled a disease, we actually know little else about the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction.

The “Pathological Dependence” is a Pathological Relationship

An inherent limitation of the medical model is ignoring the fact that ‘pathological dependence’ implies that a relationship, one that is emotional and psychological in nature, has formed with the substance or activity (i.e. gambling, porn, etc.) The ‘pathological dependency’ is a pathological relationship, one in which there is continuous and increasing emotional involvement. The relationship with a source of relief that serves primarily to provide relief from emotional pain or frustration by bringing on a rush or high, pleasure, excitement or as an escape.

It’s possible that the medical establishment never focused on or embraced the relationship aspect of addiction because the concept of relationship is subjective, immeasurable and not provable scientifically, and therefore ignored it. Yet it’s clear to all of us that a relationship does exist; one that can be likened to a secret love affair.

Certainly the term “pathological” to describe this relationship is apt in a number of ways, beginning with the underlying obsession and desperation that drives the relationship, as the addict is out of control, unable to stop thinking about or pursuing it. The relationship is carried on behind a cloak of denial and deception, separate from the rest of the addict’s life. This relationship immediately becomes the primary relationship, more powerful than any other. While the substance or activity provides much needed relief, it feeds the addiction by further starving the addict emotionally. As time goes by, the addict is becoming increasingly cut off from the rest of the world, from other people and relationships and is actually worse off than before s/he got involved in this relationship as the level of (pre-existing) pain increases over time. It’s a relationship that offers no real emotional nourishment — nothing healthy — only an artificially induced high and temporary relief along with a number of harmful effects.

Etiology & Pre-disposing Conditions

Addiction is the result of non-emotionally nourishing relationships. The Relationship Model of Addiction is based on the premise that a relationship with a source of relief is driven by the need for relief from unmet emotional needs. The need to relieve pain is considered to be a basic human need, whether physical or emotional, and often becomes overpowering depending on the extent of pain. Human beings tend to avoid pain at all costs. Behaviorists have established the need to avoid pain as well as the need to relieve pain as primary motivational forces, i.e. negative and positive reinforcement. Emotionally based pain comes from unmet emotional needs, and leaves one in a dysphoric state thirsting for euphoria, or the most easily accessible, effective means of relief possible.

What happens when we’re deprived of emotional nourishment? When we are unloved, don’t receive the affection, attention, acknowledgement and appreciation we require? When we don’t feel heard and understood? When we don’t feel like we belong, or are special in any way? When we don’t feel connected to someone? There is a build-up of hunger, shame and emptiness and the need to relieve this pain takes over. At some point, desperation sets in. One way or another, we’ll find relief. We’ll either find external sources of relief in the form of substances, activities or other relationships, or rely on tried and proven defense mechanisms at our disposal in the form of denial, delusion and deception.

Defending against pain involves and results in losing touch with our feelings. When losing touch with our feelings, we become more isolated and deprived, which leads to increasing pain, and the subsequent increasing need for relief becomes part of an endless vicious cycle, one in which self-growth and intimacy are impossible. Depending on the amount of pent-up pain, defending or coping can become overwhelmingly difficult, which is why there are so many people who commit suicide, suffer with depression, go crazy, become dependent on mind/mood-altering substances, or find other means of relief.

Why are so many people in so much pain?

Addiction doesn’t occur in a vacuum. When we put the quality of relationships or the inability to communicate intimately under the microscope, a bleak image emerges. There are a lot of people fending for themselves in emotionally barren terrain. The overwhelming majority of families and relationships, including family of origin as well as current ones, are dysfunctional, non-intimate, non-emotionally nourishing.

Expanding the focus beyond family and current relationships to the rest of the world leaves an even bleaker image. Television and newspaper headlines inundate us daily with lurid descriptions of atrocities committed by human beings upon one another. We are bombarded by excess in the economic realm – by greed and corruption – as well as in the political realm by rampant abuses of power, terrorism, war, gangs, hatred, and seemingly endless cases of abuse, rape, kidnap and murder. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. We all know stories that never make the news – the secret horrors of violence, abuse and insanity in so many homes; homes that are the breeding grounds for what we see reported in newspapers and on television. All of this drains our vitality and reinforces the need to further insulate ourselves. After a while, apathy, alienation and emotional numbness become a state of existence.

Why do some people get addicted and not others?

The medical model approach to these questions is that alcoholism and chemical dependency are largely the result of genetic and biochemical factors. Evidence suggests that a history of addiction in one’s family of origin or prior generations predisposes one to becoming addicted. Evidence also suggests biochemistry — the unique combination of chemicals in the brain with mind/mood-altering substances brings about some kind of extraordinarily pleasurable experience and irresistible craving.

However, there are those who have addiction running rampant in their families or who have a biochemical predisposition for becoming an addict who do not become dependent. The same goes for a chemical imbalance. We may surmise, therefore, that becoming addicted involves more than just genetics or biology. By the same token, we know that the incidence of abuse in one’s family of origin also correlates, but we don’t know exactly why or how significant a role it has. Some people with a history of family of origin abuse may experiment with various mind/mood substances or activities, but don’t become addicted. We might, therefore, strongly consider the level of pre-existing (emotional and physical) pain at the time of discovery another way to explain why some people and not others become addicted.

Perhaps the simplest explanation for the phenomenon of addiction is that it is a matter of the right chemistry. It is when the “right” person discovers the affect that a need for more develops. The right person could be anyone whose level of pre-existing emotional pain causes an extraordinarily pleasurable or pain-relieving gratifying experience.

The Relationship Model of Addiction establishes a new standard for understanding and treating addiction. It expands the disease concept by re-defining addiction as a relationship. The model accounts for the cause of addiction as related to the preponderance of non-emotionally nourishing relationships, unmet emotional needs, the resultant pain and need to relieve that pain. It identifies pre-disposing conditions as a backlog of pain, general state of dysphoria that goes beyond past and current relationships and includes the much larger social context. We know that despite the fact that this pain is subjective in nature, it is no less real or consequential than physical pain. Therefore we may assume that the greater the emotional deprivation, the greater the pain, the greater the need to relieve that pain and the more susceptible one is to becoming addicted.

The Relationship Model brings forth phenomenological or experiential, humanistic and existential perspectives; sheds light on the psychological dynamics of addiction; and holds profound treatment implications. We know that recovering addicts must eventually make the transition from “pathologically” dependent relationships based on the need for relief to sober healthy, intimate, emotionally nourishing relationships. Regardless of one’s experience in past and current relationships, learning some basic principles, pitfalls, challenges and skills, can be an empowering turning point and unleash one’s creative potential.

When Not to Start a Relationship

Have you recently ended a relationship or are you recently divorced? Are you thinking about dating again?

Many times, putting yourself back into the dating scene is a good idea. But how can you know when it is time to start a new relationship?

Here are some questions to ponder:

1. Are you fully over your last relationship, or do you still have hope of reconciliation?

If you still fantasize about getting back with your partner, then you are not truly available for another relationship. Is there really a possibility of reconciliation, or are you making up the possibility? If there really is a possibility, then it is certainly not time to date. If the relationship is really over, then you need to fully accept this before moving on to another relationship. As long as you are in denial about the relationship being over, you are not fully available for another relationship.

2. If your partner has died, do you feel ready for a new relationship?

If you had a loving relationship with your deceased partner, then any time you feel ready is fine. You already know how to have a good relationship, so there is a good chance of having another good relationship when you feel ready for it.

3. Have you fully explored your part of why your relationship ended?

When a relationship goes on the rocks, it is because each partner is contributing to the problems. It is always fairly easy to see what the other person did that caused problems, but much harder to see what you did.

It may be necessary for you to have therapeutic help in understanding your end of the relationship issues. I have been working with individuals and couples for 40 years and I have seen that people tend to repeat the same patterns in relationships over and over unless they do some healing work. Even if, at the beginning, a new relationship looks different from your other relationships, there is a good possibility that it will end up the same.

Most relationships create a system with one person being a caretaker and the other being a taker. These roles can switch in different relationships and around different issues. Unless you heal your tendencies to be a caretaker or a taker, you will continue to create relationship systems that don’t work.

Underneath all relationship dysfunction are control issues. Whether you control with anger, righteousness, blame, judgment, compliance, resistance, or withdrawal of love, until you heal the fear underlying all controlling behavior, you will continue to create relationship problems.

This does not mean that these issues need to be healed before starting a new relationship, but it does mean is that you need to be in the process of healing to have a chance at a good relationship.

4. Do you feel available for a new relationship?

Most people have two bottom-line fears when it comes to relationships: the fear of rejection and the fear of engulfment, which means the fear of losing the other or the fear of losing yourself. These are deep fears that start in childhood and may continue throughout your life, making it difficult for you to be fully emotionally available in a relationship.

These fears do not just go away. Until you develop a powerful loving adult self, you may take rejection personally and not know how to handle loss. Without a strong loving inner adult, you may allow others to control you, giving yourself up to prevent rejection.

Again, these fears do not need to be healed before starting a relationship, but unless you are in the process of healing them and continue to do healing work within a relationship, there is a good chance that you will recreate another unsuccessful relationship.

A relationship is a wonderful arena for healing and growth when both people are devoted to learning to be a strong loving adult. If you are on a devoted healing and learning path, make sure that your new partner is too!

Extracts of Love and Relationships

Several persons begin relationships out of desire, which is the opposite of aspiration. Once the relationship progresses and one tires of the other, they often drift worlds apart. These types of relationships are often harmful; since selfish motivation sparks, the relationship and thus the result only bring down the outlook of love and relationship. When a person has desire in mind while starting a relationship, it is almost guaranteed there will be other relationships outside of the relationship, and the other person will hurt since they are in love alone.

A trail of broken hearts follows behind these types of relationships. Thus, knowing who you are is the start that determines if you will find true love and relationship. If you are in contact with your emotions, personality, beliefs, standards, and so forth, thus you can touch the fine lines of love and relationship while remaining in love and in the relationship. Thus, lust, love and relationship have a separation that needs defined to make love last.

Desires are a mindful response to emotions triggered by appealing appetizers, and backed with impulses. Lust throughout the years has proven harmful, especially if the action acted out on lust has gain in mind, which focuses on sexual pleasures.

Nowadays, few people remain steadfast in love and relationships, while considering love in the context delivered from originality. Religion, politics, unfaithfulness, lust, and other influences often join man and woman together, yet still relationships fail.

Love behind the years has confirmed that respect, consideration and other elements of love are non-existing, and thus relationships often fail. When two people join in relationships and love they must adhere to the advice provided to them by the Law of God and not man. When couples step on boundaries and disregard true advice they often find them self-heading down the path to divorce and/or separation, thus, finding true love takes skill, patients, long-suffering, and other human mechanisms to make love last.

A good relationship is based on trust, love, and faith, self-control and sharing. When one partner is giving more than the other partner this is not love. When one partner trusts that his or her partner is faithful and the partner is out spreading it around like the plague then someone is going to get hurt.

Thus, in the present day of love and relationships, hurt often consumes relationships, thus divorce and/or separation result. Some relationships can withstand the weathers with one partner working, but all relationships take two to make it last. Thus, some men have a history of proving unfaithful, dishonest, deceitful, et cetera. At one time women were never heard of committing such acts as adultery, murder, or abusing the mate. Thus, nowadays women fed up with the ways many men have demonstrated throughout history, including engaging in adulterous affairs, and inappropriate materials, thus nowadays women are making a statement by acting out the same.

Women at one time worked at home raising the children and taking care of the household. Often the man would work, bringing home the bread and rarely did you hear reports of divorce or separation. Still they existed, but at present divorces and separation is an ongoing issue in society.

Nowadays, it is next to impossible to find pure love. Good men often find women that treat them ill, while bad men are mistreating women badly that their views of men diminish over time. Good women often find men that cheat, lie, or take them for granted, thus finding a good relationship nowadays is next to impossible.

Likewise, women at present are taking a stand, thus showing that low tolerance is in the making. The one surefire element that composes true love is long-suffering, thus men and women alike nowadays lack the ability to illustrate this ingredient that makes up love.

Different relationships in the world boil down to good or bad relationships. When two people join in intimate relations, both parties must work hard to make the relationship work. A bad relationship will utilize tools believing that the mechanisms will keep the spice in his or her life when they feel tired out of the mate. In other words, a bad relationship focuses on sexual gratification, which never occurs, since he or she tires out quickly. The person may engage in pornographic reading or viewing, promiscuous relationships, violence, and so forth to gratify the desire.

Secrets Of Understanding An Addictive Relationship Revealed

An addictive relationship is no fun, though many, many, people are in dysfunctional relationships that are not in their best interests. Bad relationships lead to abuse, drug use, depression, and to people’s lives being negatively affected. Addictive relationships can be hard to define, and therefore it can be hard to tell if you are in one. However, a bad relationship is something to take seriously, and if you can figure out that you are in one, you are one step closer to getting out of it so that you can get into a good relationship.

An addictive relationship tends to isolate either or both partners from the outdide world. It is identical to drug or alcohol dependence. It is something that keeps them apart from the things they really love and tasks they should be accomplishing. An addictive relationship is truly a dysfunctional relationship because it is defined by an increasing craving to be with a person, and by withdrawal symptoms that go along with being away from them. It also has the some of the same signs as other addictions, such as low self-esteem, passivity, magical thinking, lack of initiative, and helplessness.

There are seven things that you can see in an addictive relationship. If you find that your relationship has these things or any number of them, chances are good that you are in a bad relationship, and should consider getting out of it.

1. If it is love at first site, an animal attraction, or infatuation, warning bells should also be going off. This might include a person that is too far away, married, not interested, or emotionally unavailable. If these things are true about your partner, yet you feel like you are drawn to them, it could be an addictive relationship.

2. If changing the other person to want you want them to be is your goal, you are in a losing situation. People will not change just because you hound them. If you find yourself constantly thinking that the relationship would be perfect if the person could just change a little bit, it is a sign of a bad relationship.

3. If know that the relationships is bad for you, but you are not able to break it off, this is a sign of an addictive relationship. you may not feel deserving of a positive relationship, perhaps you are so worried about the others reaction to a break up you lose sight of your own needs. no matter what, these are the signs of a bad relationship.

4. If you notice the realtioships of other happy people seem boring compared to yours, it may be a sign you are hooked on the chaos of an addictive relationship. There is a big probability that you would spurn these people to stay in your current relationship.

5. If you don’t feel that you can be independent within your relationship, even though you might be independent in other areas, it might be a sign of an addictive relationship.

6. If it is hard to say ‘no’ and stick to it and you find yourself always giving in to your partners needs, this is another sign.

7. If your relationship makes you feel self-doubt, it is a sign that your relationship is dysfunctional.

If you find that you are in an addictive relationship, the best thing to do is to get out of the relationship. However, seek help from family and friends, and even professionals, so that you can avoid going back to the person, and so that you can learn how to appreciate yourself long enough to find a successful and good relationship.