Daniel Linder, MFT
Addiction and addictive behaviors
The relationship model of addiction picks up where the disease model, or the disease concept, leaves off. The disease concept understands addiction or sees addiction as a pathological dependence. I realized that wherever there’s a dependence, there’s a relationship, and I began to focus on and expand on the concept that disease is a relationship that has both emotional and psychological implications. On the other hand, the disease concept is mostly biological and behavioral in its understanding of addiction.
Basically, an addiction is a relationship with a means of relief, whether that relief is through substances or porn or sex or other relationships or compulsive gambling. It’s a relationship with a means of relief. So the implication is that there is pain that needs to be relieved. I believe that the pain is the underlying driving force of the addiction, and it’s emotional in nature. So, for people who are predisposed to addictions or people who come from families where there are a lot of unmet emotional needs or people in current relationships that aren’t working and where there are a lot of unmet emotional needs, there is a higher level of pain that is a predisposing condition. The more pain, the greater the need to relieve it, hence, the predisposition to becoming addicted, to finding something that’s going to make them feel better.
One way that I understand addiction as a relationship is to think of it as a secret love affair. And whenever there’s a secret love affair, there is secrecy and obsession and an overwhelming, overpowering, or consuming relationship that builds over time. And it builds until the person seeks escape from the pain or other things or stresses that are going on in the person’s life.
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