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My love addiction is worse than my IV coke habit — what should I do?

Dear Stanton:

I am a 43 year old male who is currently 3 years clean from a I.V. cocaine addiction, 18 months clean from a alcohol addiction but my biggest battle is facing me now. I am addicted to having contact with a long time friend.

All of the symptoms are there of a chemical dependency and I feel it may be a love addiction of sorts.

I am not prepared to give up this person as a friend but this obsession is all consuming and crippling.

This is a romantic interest although it should not be. This person has had a boyfriend for the past 2 years but prior to that we were involved on an intimate level. The strange thing about this situation is that we are very close friends although under normal circumstances, I would not want to be involved with her. She has difficulties being truthful with me and that is something I desire in a friendship. She came into my life 10 years at a time when my marriage was breaking up. She was 20 and I was 33 and I was quite swept off my feet.

Why I think this is an addiction is that all the symptoms that I experienced with my chemical addictions are here. If I can't get in touch with her I panic, I get a high after I talk to her, 85% of my thoughts each day are about her. I can not let go of it and it is ruining my life. I am tied to her and although I want to be set free of the addiction side of this relationship, I don't want to lose her as a friend. We are currently trying to limit talking on the phone once or twice a week although it had been every day for quite some time.

I am desperate, I have made some major life changes recently such as going back to school, loosing 100 pounds in the last 6 months and generally feeling a lot better about my self but if I can not get this back in place I don't know what I will do.

What can I do?

Frank


Dear Frank:

I wrote a book entitled, Love and Addiction. So I know relationships can be addictive. Obviously, as an experienced addict, you can make some well-informed comparisons among various addictions. Moreover, some people would say weight and eating are the hardest appetites/addictions to remedy. Yet you have done so, but remain unable to cope with a love addiction.

Frank, you say your lover is dishonest and unreliable. Is this a good person for you to turn your life over to? You became involved with this woman when your marriage was breaking up. Have you formed another valuable relationship that can compete with this unhealthy one?

I am not against people continuing sensible relationships with former addictive objects. But, obviously, important things in your life must change before you can change the nature of this relationship, things that are meaningful to you emotionally, and that occupy your free time in a constructive way. You will be able to lick this addiction when your life is sufficiently balanced to permit you to do this. You have made significant advances in your life — ceasing a drug addiction, going back to school, and doing other good things for yourself. Frank, you are still going to have to focus on yourself. If I told you that your former lover's lying to you is a sign that she is selfish and concerned only with her own satisfaction, would that change your orientation? My humble opinion is that you will never have a satisfactory relationship with her.

Best,
Stanton