Addiction: a persistent, compulsive dependence on, or commitment to, a habit or practice, on a thing or substance, to the extent that its cessation causes trauma.
There are many definitions of addiction, but bottom line, it’s a dependence on something that causes one to have compulsive thoughts and behaviors, which they cannot control or stop.
Individuals can be addicted to many things such as, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, food, gambling, sex, but when we are talking about an addiction to a person, we usually use the word obsession. When researches study addiction they often refer to certain neurotransmitters being present in the brain, or certain areas of the brain lighting up, or becoming visible on tests. At present there are no known studies to determine if the same brain patterns exist for an addiction to a person.
I was recently doing some research on addiction, for another publication, when I stumbled across something that fascinated me.
We often become aware, at some point, that continuing in our relationship is not in our best interest, but we just can’t seem to stop, regardless of how bad it makes us feel, or any consequences it renders. It’s a persistent need and longing, to feel wanted by the object of our obsession, to the point where we will persist in self-destructive behaviors that we wouldn’t otherwise normally partake in. This to me sounded a lot like a common addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
The following depicts the signs and symptoms of common addictions and Narcissistic addiction.
- An inability to stop using/engaging with the substance
- Addiction continues despite awareness of serious harm
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Social/Financial/Recreational Sacrifices
- Unpredictable and/or Unstable Behaviors
- Secrecy and Denial
- Behaviors that Inhibit Normal Life Functioning
Examples of these behaviors in terms of Narcissist Addiction would be:
A preoccupation with thinking about and longing for a person, or a relationship long after the relationship has ended, to the point that it impedes normal life functioning.
Continually re-engaging with the Narcissist, after repeated breakups, regardless of the amount of harm suffered, or amount of time that has passed.
A pervasive feeling of heartache, sadness, depression and worthlessness.
Continuing to engage with a Narcissist while being fully aware of the emotional, psychological, and/or financial harm it causes.
Being consumed with thoughts of reconciliation.
Checking your phone and email, or any source of previous contact, repeatedly every few seconds or minutes, in hopes of some contact you may have missed.
Dropping everything at the first sign of their potential interest again and allowing yourself to be used, or manipulated in any way, after previous abuse or harm.
Putting up mild to no resistance to mistreatment.
Ignoring friends and family because you know they would not approve of your behavior.
Ceasing to engage in normal behaviors you enjoy, in order to be available for your Narcissist.
While most of us experience periods of malaise after a breakup, where we will engage in some of these behaviors, the difference here is the degree and the duration. The thoughts and behaviors mentioned above become an addiction when you cannot control them – meaning you cannot stop your thoughts, the hurt has extended long beyond normal healing times and you cannot stop yourself from re-engaging with the person, even though they have caused you repeated harm and you know that the result this time around will be no different.
No contact seems pretty harsh to a lot of people and in most cases it is. It’s not meant for relationships where there was mutual love and respect, but it just didn’t work out, or long term relationships, where you’ve grown apart. Many people who have become addicted to their Narcissist allow themselves to become members of a Narcissistic Harem, because they would rather have a piece of them, than nothing at all. They drop everything on the whim of their Narcissists and allow themselves to be used and manipulated over and over again.
That is the essence of a Narcissistic addiction.
No contact can seems like an impossible task. It’s like a smoker, or an alcoholic waking up and realizing that they have to give up their greatest desire. Yes, it is going to hurt, there is going to be withdrawal symptoms, it is going to be a struggle every day and there is a good chance of relapse, but if you want to reclaim your life, No Contact is the only way, it is akin to going cold turkey.
When I was a teenager I used to smoke cigarettes. I loved smoking. I would often say, ‘if it was free and good for you I would never stop smoking.’ But I came to the conclusion that I was poisoning myself every day and that my money would be better spent on payments for a new car.
I successfully quit for a couple of years until I hooked up with some friends one night, who were all smoking and I thought, ‘I’ve beaten this – one little drag won’t hurt me.’ And before that night was through I had purchase my first pack of cigarettes in over two years.
The Law of Addiction states that:
“Administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.”
We know that in order for an alcoholic, a smoker or a drug addict to beat their addiction they must refrain forever. You’ve heard the saying, “Once an addict – always an addict.” That’s what the law of addiction tells us. It doesn’t matter how much time has gone by, if you use or engage with the substance again ever, there is a high probability that you will become addicted again.
This is why once you’ve gotten away from your Narcissists and you’ve initiated no contact – you will start to feel in control again and pretty good about yourself – but all it takes is one phone call – one text message that you respond to and you are right back in the thick of it.
You cannot beat a Narcissistic addiction while still maintaining contact. It’s like saying everything in moderation is ok – everything in moderation is fine as long as you’re not addicted to it. That’s how you know you’re addicted to it – because you can’t do moderation.
Maintaining no contact when you have children
I know many of you have children with Narcissists and are wondering how to navigate around no contact, when you have to deal with each other as it pertains to the children. Well, let your communication do just that – pertain to the children. Don’t engage in any discussion other than the care of the children.
Just don’t engage in anything, even if you are dying to, even if it’s to defend yourself. Remember you are not dealing with an emotionally healthy individual here. All they want is some type of reaction from you – give them nothing. This is where self-discipline will have to come into play. If it is too difficult for you then have someone liaise between you – the court, a friend, or a family member. But do not ever give in to any attempt to re-engage you.
Many people do get to a point where the mere thought of their Narcissist brings up feelings of loathing, disgust or indifference. While I am not advocating hate, I would say indifference is what you should be striving for, especially if you do have to continue to engage with them at some level.
At this point, I couldn’t care less what my long-term Narcissist is up to, but any mention of, or proximity to, anything pertaining to my last boomerang Narcissist can still cause my stomach to do a flip, so I know – once an addict always an addict – and I have to completely stay away from him. I made the decision to go cold turkey on my Narcissist despite all of his attempts to engage with me. I had a tough go of it, but I battled through it and came to a place of pure peace and happiness, but I must never forget the tremendous power my addiction had over me and I must always be diligent to stay far, far away from him. That’s what NO CONTACT is all about.
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