Addiction is Romance

Addiction, in whatever form, is romance. It is the most extreme and severe form of it. It is an infatuated relationship; the object becoming one’s lover and the heart enveloping itself within it. Liken it to human romance. When a connection occurs, the individual is flooded with pleasure and satisfaction, the romantic interest etched in the brain.

The person gets lost in preoccupied wonder, abandoned to fantasy, strongly desiring to maintain connection. And as the bond strengthens, both individuals begin to turn increasingly more to one another. When they feel sad they look to each for nurture, or scared, for comfort. Their heart leaps and salivates over the thought of being together, of the future encounter.

When there’s rupture, or distance, they either protest and hungrily seek out that lover or collapse into sadness and despair, terrified at the permanence; a hellish, eternal disconnect. The pull for connection is an intense magnetic force, driving the two towards closeness. Any foreign obstruction that drives a wedge is vilified and becomes the enemy, infiltrating and blocking intimate engagement.

It is also why human relationships, especially romantic ones, suffer so greatly from addiction, because those addicted have turned away from the bond established between they and their lover. We were created to be connected. It is also the reason the one addicted cannot “just stop”; beyond just the physical dependency. Emotionally, the heart is connected to that which soothes, comforts, nurtures, beckons, brings pleasure, satisfies, adds creativity, excitement and creates a sense of wholeness. Despite actual reality, such outlets lack the scary experience of vulnerability which exist in human relationship. There is no “perceived” threat of harm, rejection, unavailability, or abuse.

Beneath the compulsive force to escape into one’s “lover” is a deep and omnipresent shame and suppressed rage towards those with whom the heart has been wounded by. The individual is fighting to bury such intensity and the excruciating pain of acknowledging that they have been hurt by those they love. Such intensity is channeled through the “high” of the “drug”.

Actual human relationships carry both pains and joys. It is terrifyingly vulnerable to experience the depth and hunger of one’s need for connection conflicting with the reality that the other is human, fragile at times, unavailable, angry, hurting, distant and capable of hurting. Any addiction is the fruition of a person’s felt need, emptiness, pain and the heart’s desire to comfort it.

The romance between the person and his “lover” is so powerful that the body literally becomes shaped and oriented to its ability to bring temporary satisfaction and a brief sense of wholeness. The lost self is searching to be found and creating fusion with the substance’s overwhelming presence of relief, pleasure and satisfaction. The person forgets himself as he finds refuge from the omnipresent existence of loneliness, emptiness and rage. The addictive outlet becomes the source for more than just escape, but the discovery of his own self, looking for identity and fulfillment, and yet needing to increase the substance/outlet’s presence and its effect on the entire body to sustain that state of “being”.

Usually, the person that becomes so entrenched in addiction and recreating that “lover’s presence” within himself, is one that not only feels a great pain, but also one that is completely lost and feels the ache of emptiness, most likely stemming from relational injuries in his past. More than likely, the person lost in the throes of addiction is trying to suppress a very overwhelming state of hate/rage.   

The goal, is for that person and those surrounding to look at their own hearts and how they contribute to the disconnected/abusive/addictive patterns within the relationship. An addiction is an actual relationship, one that has become a substitute and a “safe haven”. The shift happens when individuals begin to look at themselves, their wounded ways of trying to sustain relationship, but actually perpetuate disconnection from one another through enabling, as well as invalidating ways of responding to one another. Healing from addiction is not only an individual’s work, but a familial/societal one as well.