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April 15, 2013

Addiction and the Abuse Pattern

I spoke briefly in my blog about addiction not being a choice or a weakness. I wanted to explore that in a series on addiction. This article introduces what the abuse pattern looks like. I will then address how an addict is seduced by the force of addiction and how that can lead to destruction in all aspects of the addict’s life. This destruction does not stop with the addict but affects all the addicts friends and loved ones. The series will then address how addiction can come in through one person but affect everyone around them as well.

 

Alcoholism and addiction emerge from an abuse pattern in an individual’s environment and from a biological/genetic piece. That abuse pattern is the same for substance abuse and abusive relationships . It can unfold from verbal to emotional abuse to physical and/or sexual abuse. For physical and/or sexual abuse to occur, however, verbal or emotional abuse must already be established in the relationship. The same is true for the substance abuse. The genetic piece may already be there but when the environment is defined by the abuse pattern, there is a great probability that the abuse or addiction will emerge.

 

What is the pattern? There isn’t much out there on it. But it “looks” something like this. The initial stage is great!! The very beginning of the relationship is the most romantic, there’s nothing like it. It gives the biggest buzz, a state of euphoria, just like an addict’s first high. It lights the person up!! It does not get better than this in relationship or substance. Then there is a small misunderstanding in the relationship that causes a bit of tension OR the high comes to an end. This drops the experience into a bit of a down curve or valley of anger or hurt from the misunderstanding OR hangover from substance. Then there is an apology or a silent agreement that this isn’t worth being tense over OR the hangover wears off and the curve starts to go up again! But it doesn’t get as high as the initial high! There is a trust pinch in the relationship and an anticipation of newness in the substance (that is no longer new). Even so, the relationship (with someone or substance) is now going well again! Until, something happens: either another upset or another hangover/coming down. This time the down curve is a bit lower than the first and again, there is something that allows the curve to correct and start to feel better until the relationship seems to be good (or high) again! Yet, much like before, the high is not as high as the previous!! And so it goes. Each drop gets lower and each high gets lower as the abuse pattern takes you into a downward spiral into it’s hell. It doesn’t take long at all before your “high” in the relationship (with someone or substance) is lower than your first low! OUCH! (See below)

Abuse Pattern

Abuse Pattern

The person who is influenced by the abuse/addiction is in a constant state of “trying” to do better or get better in the relationship with the other person or substance, respectively. This reaction is because they believe that if they could do just one thing different or better then they could get that great initial feeling back again and hold onto it! They think they are doing something wrong or they aren’t taking enough. They have now personalized the pattern and believe they need to keep following the lead of the other person or the substance so that they can find the better experience. They may swallow their hurt or emotions because they do not want to experience the “wrath”. They may feel the emotions or physical discomfort and avoid by getting high. The pattern has now fastened them into possibly the scariest ride of their life: a spiral into hell on this plane. It is too late for the individual to see they are following a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that they have left the truth of who they are and their life behind — hidden so that it would not be destroyed. Yet, they feel destroyed by what they are enduring in the promise of the next great high or time! And so it goes….

 

In the next article, I will talk about some of the most common and pervasive emotions that are a part of this pattern and, consequently, affect both the addict and his or her partner and/or family.

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