Finding someone to love is as necessary to human survival as eating or hydrating one's self. With that being said, recovering addicts need to be mindful of the dangers of love in recovery. Being addicted to love can be harmful in ways similar to a substance addiction. The mental illness of addiction is centered around an abnormality with the prefrontal cortex. This part of the mind is the counter-balance to the pleasure system. The pleasure system runs unrestrained when people drink alcohol or use drugs, so they crave the substances and disregard logical decision making. Love and intimate interactions also spark the pleasure system, so it's easy for addicts to become addicted to love as well, and being addicted to love can be one of the quickest roads to relapse.
Love addiction and dependency can go hand-in-hand. Those who are addicted to love are often afraid to be alone. Much like using drugs or alcohol, being in a relationship can fill a void someone has within himself or herself. The need to fill that void can often cause bad situations when a person falls in love in recovery, but doesn't realize that they're dependent on having to be in a relationship. Some of the common signs of relationship dependency include:
There are many other traits associated with being dependent, but the bottom line is that you're uncomfortable with being alone. This can lead to jumping into a bad relationship with someone who is a bad match and takes advantage of those who are relationship-dependent.
The best way to have a healthy relationship in recovery is to work on yourself first. You can't love anyone else before you learn to love yourself. Loving yourself also helps protect you from potentially toxic relationships that can lead to relapse, and your recovery must come above all else. From a therapist or others in recovery, you may hear that it's a good idea to avoid relationships entirely for the first year of sobriety. This is a good rule of thumb because it gives you time to discover who you are in sobriety and learn how to feel comfortable in your own skin again. If you do find yourself in a relationship that's leading to relapse or has led to relapse, it's important to recognize it. If you've relapsed and your partner truly cares for you, he or she will understand that you need to seek help. Just remember not to give up hope and get the help you need so you can begin on the road to recovery once more. Freedom From Addiction can give you the help you need.
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