By: Caleb Anderson
Caleb developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
Addiction and relationships
Addiction changes people and they often feel and act as though they are two different people inside the same body.
No one uses their first drug with the intention of becoming an addict. It is just something that happens over time, often without them realizing it. Addictive behaviors start in the brain, which releases dopamine, a chemical that commits pleasurable activities to the memory. Psychology Today contributor Dr. Nigel Barber says one explanation of addiction is that addicts simply learn to repeat actions that make them feel good.
Why addicts change
Much like the fictional Dr. Jekyll, addicts often transform when exposed to their drug of choice. This Mr. Hyde personality may only exist at first while using but can take over, essentially locking the original personality away in the deepest depths of the mind.
Infidelity and addiction
Infidelity is a common problem with couples where one or both partners have turned to drugs and alcohol. The betrayal isn’t meant to cause pain; rather it is likely part of a protective layer the user builds to shield their loved ones from what they may now believe to be their true nature. Sexual promiscuity may also stem from an intense physical need to acquire drugs or the need for acceptance of the behavior. Withdrawal can trigger irrational and risky actions; deep down, the user knows these actions are unacceptable but the part of them that controls rational decision-making is buried under the weight of physical dependency.
Enable or exile
If you suspect infidelity, you may be wondering if you should confront your lover with your suspicions or allow the behavior to continue as to avoid conflict. Overlooking behavior is a form of enablement that will ultimately do more harm than good. If your relationship was healthy prior to the addiction and infidelity, there is a good chance that it can be mended with patience and understanding on your part and hard work and reparative actions on the part of the addict. A word of caution, however, as according to Dr. Becky Whetstone, adultery and addiction often go hand-in-hand with abuse. If your spouse or partner has become abusive, it may be time to sever ties altogether. At a minimum, seek outside help.
Long-term complications of addiction and relationships
Couples wishing to reconcile once the addicted partner is in recovery have a long road ahead. Even when the addict is herself or himself again, there will always be a lingering doubt about them in the minds of their friends, relatives, and partner. Routine events, such as company picnics or weekends away with friends, may trigger suspicion. Temptation will always be present and the couple must work together to reestablish the bonds of trust. The adulterating addict must understand that the shadows of doubt are an inevitable side effect of their behavior.
In addition to sexual misadventures, an addict may engage in other behaviors that illustrate a lack of commitment to a relationship. Lying, stealing, and engaging in fraudulent activities can hurt the relationship just as much as physical infidelities. These are issues that must also be discussed and addressed before any real healing can begin.
Road to recovery
The road to recovery begins with the addict and the admission that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. He or she must be willing to make amends to themselves and to their partner. Recovery options include inpatient and outpatient care along with ongoing counseling and access to a support network of friends and family.
In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll is eventually unable to control his metamorphosis and it is alluded that he becomes his own monster 100% of the time. Thankfully, the story is fiction; today addicts and their families have access to a wide array of services to help return the archetypical “good doctor” back to power.