How Is Recovery from Addiction Similar to Leaving an Abusive Relationship?

Relationships are much like a drug addiction. When you fall in love, you give yourself mind, body, and soul to a person. You want to spend every waking minute with them, and you can’t imagine going one day without their smile, kiss, hug, or being by your side. Now consider the same feelings that a person with a substance abuse problem feels continuously.

“Addictions” come in all shapes and sizes. For some, it’s a boyfriend that they can’t get enough of, and for others, it’s heroin and oxycontin. Breaking the cycle of drug addiction has often been compared to ending a relationship. You will experience many of the same types of feelings. When you cut ties with a substance or person that has long been a part of your life, you will go through the grieving process. How does the grieving process correlate to drugs and breakups?

The Stages of Grief

Grief is separated into six categories. These are the phases that a person will go through when they lose something near and dear to them. Now, you probably can’t imagine how a person would grieve the loss of drugs or a toxic person in their life. However, drugs become a comfort in the coldest and darkest days in life. They can make you forget the pain you feel and often mask an underlying mental illness. Here are the five stages and how they can relate to addiction.


Once you detox and go through the process of getting clean, you may be shocked at how far out of control your habit has become. Additionally, in a relationship, you may also be in shock at the information you find out or things that have developed. Breaking up with drugs or people can leave the body in a state of shock.


Denial is a peaceful place for some to rest until they can accept what they’ve done. You may deny that you’ve hurt family and friends in the process as well as deny that your situation is as bad as it seems.


It’s normal to become angry or even bitter when you’ve experienced a loss. You may be mad at yourself, mad at a higher power, or mad at family who you’ve felt has contributed to your downward spiral. If you experienced a breakup, you might be mad that they chose to move on to someone else. With drugs, you may be angry at the amount of time you wasted, and money spent.


Bargaining is a difficult phase. Your mind is not ready to accept the changes, yet you are trying desperately to find something else to fill this space. When it comes to drug addiction, you may trade heroin for cigarettes to have something to ease the pain and give you a buzz. Others may turn to food to try to heal their anguish. The same can be said for a relationship. Mentally, you will try to justify and negotiate with yourself on how to get over this tumultuous time.


Depression is a mental health problem that affects millions of people. When you have a clear head after years of addiction, it’s easy to get depressed at where you’ve been and the people you hurt. Plus, you no longer have that drug to help you cope with things as you did in the past. In a relationship, you may long for the touch of that person. You will miss everything about them and find yourself falling to pieces without them.


Finally, you will learn to accept the situation and move on. For an individual with a substance abuse issue, it’s a lifelong journey. You can never let your guard down, or it can cause a relapse. For a person going through a breakup, you are finally ready to move on, and you’ve accepted that you will never be with that person again.

Starting Over

It’s easy to see how closely related a breakup in a relationship, and one with drugs have in common. You will go through the stages of grief and learn coping skills. If there is an underlying mental health issue, then it can make things more complicated. If you’re ready to break up with drugs or alcohol, call one of our counselors today at 772-266-5320. They are waiting to help you break the cycle of addiction and get you on the path to recovery.

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