Why are People in Active Addiction and Recovery so Dramatic?
Why do they constantly drag you into their drama? I can remember being newly sober and thinking I was in high school again because of this new level of drama. It seemed to me everyone in rehab was a volcano about to erupt: people were in cliques like the movie Mean Girls, half of the clients were trying to hook up with the other half, and everyone was mad about getting called on their sh*t in group. Some of the meetings we went to were even worse with a whole new group of crazy to deal with. The emotionally stunted 20-somethings were having these train wrecks of relationships and making bad decisions with other sick 20-somethings, and the older people were grasping at one last chance to have a decent relationship all while dealing with advanced depression and anxiety disorders they never worked on.
What Can We Attribute This To?
Is it pure survival mode? Old behaviors? Is it that they were chasing the high and the drug for so long, they got hooked on the chaos too? Life was like living in a Soap Opera. Swimming in chaos and dysfunction and poor decision making. I can remember being so depressed in the beginning, breathing was an effort. I can remember the fight or flight response kick in the moment someone asked me a simple question in a small group. Is this person friend or foe? What are they trying to gain by asking me? If I show weakness or vulnerability will I be attacked? You would have thought I was on C block at Sing Sing.
Or is it that constantly being poor, maybe just making our bills, marginalized by society, an outcast, a criminal, a liar and a cheat to support your habit, is all by itself a life filled with drama. The daily grind, the daily struggle of using and keeping from being dope sick, even after we get sober, is all we know. We had PTSD from using and living this way. Once you go down the rabbit hole of addiction with this “living on the edge” mentality, it’s hard to bring yourself back. And we should remember this “on the edge” living is barely living, it’s just surviving. We barely can pay a bill, we can barely afford food, we can barely have a roof over our head, we can barely afford a pack of Newports. But if you talk with people in detox, they’ll act like they’re VIPs always passing the velvet ropes at the club sometimes.
Transcending the Expectation of Chaos
We are used to being treated like the outcast. We’ve been on the fringe so long, it’s the only comfort we know. We were cast out of decent society, so we stopped trying to conform to it or be accepted by it. So, we morphed into this other form of life. We were only with the other broken toys in the broken toy box that no one plays with anymore. And now we don’t know how to get back to normal, we don’t know if we’ll be accepted there. We don’t have a map and we don’t have the gas money to get there.
So, we interact with the world that way. We forgot how to act and interact in “normal society”. We forgot how to live. We forgot how to relate with our friends, our family, our spouse. Forget making these relationships healthy, we isolated so much that we could barely talk with people. Have you ever been around a dog that was abused by his owner? They’re frightened by everything, they cower in the corner, they believe every touch will be a strike. We’re like that too. We are the manipulative abuser who’s always ready to lash out, and tragically at the same time, the cowering dog who’s been beaten by everyone.
So, us addicts in early recovery are using our old thinking, our old behaviors; we use what worked best for us while using in this new life. We don’t have the experience of successfully using our new tools in this new life. We’re using our old, reliable playbook— but the game has changed, and we’re lost. We lash out with raw emotion like we’re backed in the corner defending our lives. Our emotional hostage taking worked so well in the past, it’s our go-to strategy. The drama you are used to, does not have to continue to rule your reality.
How many times have you heard “don’t even go there”? What they are saying is ‘I will emotionally throw up on you in anger and stomp my feet, I will have a temper tantrum if you dare speak about that”. At this point in my life, I’m immune to these empty threats. If you want to have a meltdown, stomp your feet, yell and scream till you turn blue: I’m all for it, stomp away. I will leave the drama to those who have yet to work on themselves fully, thoroughly, and honestly. I am not afraid of your anger, I’m not afraid of your emotions. I will be fine with or without you. I have taken away your power to manipulate and control me. And it feels good.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or recovery, please reach out to us. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 877-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Because We Care.