Relationships and Addiction

Addiction Is Often At the Center of A Marriage That Is Not Working

Addiction ranges from the most common, alcohol and prescription drugs, to disordered eating, compulsive sexual behavior, gambling, or codependency (being addicted to a person) or workaholism (escaping into work) or Internet addictions. In each case, the addiction is a substitute experience that eventually becomes both necessary and distressing. And the individual feels out of control.

In almost all cases, the individual is lonely, even with people, and has difficulty using others for support. They cope with anxiety, depression, emptiness, aloneness and other negative emotions by acting out. The effect is manifested within the family. They often experience little joy with their partner or children and don’t know why.

We, at Marriage Therapy Institute, believe disorders of intimacy are at the core of such addictive behavior.

Partners can contribute to, enable, or help to prevent their partner’s addiction. At the extreme is co-dependency in which someone can become addicted to another’s addiction, enabling and intervening with a substance abuser, eating disorder client, sex addict or workaholic, thereby creating dysfunction in one’s own life.

Boundaries become blurred and the individual often assumes responsibility for meeting the other’s needs to the exclusion of their own. There is excessive reliance on the other, wide swings of emotions, depression, or the development of a similar or different addiction or compulsion.

Sometimes there is a consistency to that of the behavior of the addict. The non-addict protects the addict from the consequences of their actions. There are strong feelings of responsibility to look out for the addict’s problem or an obsession develops around fixing the addict’s problem.

The antidote to addiction includes living fully, joyfully, and in relation with community. At Marriage Therapy Institute, we work with the addict to utilize the relationship as a healthy resource. We believe that connecting with a partner to deal with the distress of addiction is a critical component of recovery.

The healthier the partner, the greater change of a full recovery. Our goal is to remove the roadblocks to establishing this level of trust and intimacy, those roadblocks including but not limited to self-hatred and shame. Thus, allowing an individual to “allow” him or herself to be loved by another.


Addiction and Recovery at Marriage Therapy Institute (MTI)

  • MTI programs are primarily focused on the skills needed to establish and maintain sobriety from drugs, alcohol, gambling, dysfunctional eating or sexual behavior, workaholism or other “substitute” experiences, all of which had become both necessary for relief-seeing, and distressing.
  • Since the program is Intensive Outpatient in focus, we at MTI expect the individual to have established some degree of sobriety or abstinence from addictive behavior prior to treatment start, and, we provide skills for maintenance and work on the deeper issues that have caused or initially contributed to the problem.
  • Our goal is to help the individual establish relational intimacy and to utilize others for support. If there is a committed relationship, we work with the couple as whole, as well. When there is family available, we also like to work within the family context.
  • Our experience is that many things the individual might be able to do with their addiction, became difficult without the addiction, resulting in avoidance, anxiety, and procrastination. We utilize life coaches to facilitate establishing a sense of power, control, and efficacy on a daily basis, establishing feeling competent.
  • When appropriate, we work with multiple addictions and concomitant psychiatric difficulties such as depression, anxiety, OCD and bi-polar disorder.
  • Our MTI associated psychiatrist assists with medications that can facilitate this process.


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