A partner with an addiction problem can behave in a way that is reckless, appears selfish and causes chaos in their life and the lives of those close to them.
However, addiction isn’t usually a deliberate attempt to behave in a way that is out of control. Often, when someone develops an addiction it is an attempt to control how they feel about a situation which to them seems unmanageable or to block out thoughts or feelings they find hard to cope with.
Imagine you have had a really bad day. Stress at work or a row with your partner or money worries may leave you feeling anxious, angry, and sad.
Or, perhaps something upsetting in your past still disturbs you when you think about it.
You maybe find that at these times that drinking, smoking, escaping into the internet or a video game helps you to relax by ‘switching off’. For a time it feels as if your problems have gone away.
Escaping from the ‘real world’ and your problems in some way now and then is okay. For example, a few drinks after work at the weekend can be fun. However, even those ‘fun’ feelings of letting go of inhibitions can leave you wanting more… Just check that whatever it is you are doing to escape you still feel you can ‘take it or leave it’.
If you feel powerless to deal with problems you may find you crave more and more of what offers you escape instead. Unresolved problems often get worse, you, feel trapped and turn more and more to your means of ‘escape’. And it is then that destructive cycle of addiction can begin.
By this stage, it feels like the ‘take it or leave it’ option has gone. You feel scared of stopping the addictive behavior because you now feel so dependent on it.
Addiction damages self-esteem and confidence so you doubt if you can stop the addiction and face problems. Your addiction may have caused problems in relationships and you are scared that others will refuse to help you or feel ashamed to ask for help. Maybe you feel life is such a mess you don’t know where to start to make changes, so it seems pointless to try and it seems the only choice is to block everything out with the addictive behavior.
Take it to step by step – acknowledging to yourself you have an addiction problem is a big first step.
Many things have the potential to become addictive. So why are most people able to ‘take or leave it’ and others not?
If you are experiencing any of these issues and are concerned it may be triggering addictive behavior, a valuable next step would be to seek advice or support.
Online support, information and counseling can be very valuable in many cases. If you have a long term addiction problem, are addicted to drugs or alcohol, your problem involves cutting or physically harming yourself in some way, or you are aware your addiction has been triggered by a traumatic life event it may be advisable to seek face to face counseling from a specialist agency or via your GP.