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When Addiction Enters a Relationship (Part One – Excerpt from Craig Nakken)

Addiction opposes the very notion of togetherness.  It increases personal isolation, creates dividing conflict, enhances egotism, and destroys intimacy. 

Addiction runs counter to the essence and purpose of being a couple. It depletes the strengths of the relationship. 

The alcoholic or drug addict abandons his or her primary relationship with a human being for a primary relationship with an object (drug) and event (a bar’s happy hour). As addiction progresses, the chemically dependent person detaches from being a couple.  His or her ego – that is ME – becomes more important than the WE. Soon the addict unconsciously returns to a life where he or she still has a “good” relationship.

Though the addict is emotionally more attached and committed to the addictive process than to the other person, he or she many insist to his or her spouse that they’re still in love, a couple, WE.   The co-addict is not convinced; he or she senses how the addict is living less like a couple and more a separate individual.  This frightens the co-addict.

The essence of the agreement has been changed, and he or she was not consulted.  At first, the addict’s shift in priorities shows up in small breaks. Maybe the addict stops calling to let his or her partner know they will be late; the addict may make up stories that seem a little suspicious. His or her tone may sound disrespectful.   

Maybe the addict or alcohol shuts off dialogue in conversation and becomes self-righteous after a few drinks.  There are countless ways the addict or alcoholic can dishonor their partner.  The chemically dependent person finally tears himself or herself from the WE of the couple, creating deep pain and loss within the relationship.
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