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The Cycle of Toxic Behaviors in Addiction

Recovery from addiction is much more than just putting down the drink or drug. You need to work on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors surrounding drug or alcohol abuse in order to fully recover. Many addicts and alcohols rid the substance of their choice from their bodies, but will still perpetuate toxic behaviors. Addiction treatment not only works through the underlying reasons for a drug addiction, but should also teach guests a new way to live— replacing bad habits with healthy ones, giving guests a set of tools to use to manage any obstacles, and reinforcing important life skills.

What are Toxic Behaviors?

Toxic behavior is acting any way that could hurt another person or yourself. Toxic behaviors are any behaviors that could be damaging in relationships, or behaviors that could limit another person’s growth. For example, emotional abuse is a very toxic behavior.

Toxic Behaviors

Just because guests are clean, does not mean that they are acting in the healthiest way. Addiction recovery comes withs up and downs, and takes a lot of work to gain insight on how you can continue to better yourself once you have removed drugs or alcohol from your life. Some toxic behaviors are hard to recognize, because many of us have been acting in a toxic manner for our whole lives without realizing it. Here is a list of some toxic behaviors that you should take a look at:
• Minimizing
Minimizing is when you gloss over how someone else is feeling or what they’re going through, brushing off their emotions by playing down what they are dealing with. Especially if someone you care about is telling you that they are in emotional pain, and you meet it with “everything happens for a reason” or another statement to placate the situation. Minimizing is basically making what another person is going through, smaller— which is extremely invalidating.
Instead of invalidating what this person is sharing with you, be sure to listen and validate their thoughts and feelings, be empathetic as you try and understand what they are going through from their perspective, and offer love and support.
• Criticizing
Criticizing constantly can be very damaging in a relationship. By constantly criticizing someone in your life, you are sending the message that nothing they are doing is right. You may be criticizing in an effort to be helpful and honest, however, criticizing constantly can ruin relationships. Criticizing is common in relationships between family members, and it often leads to strained relationships.
Instead of constantly criticizing, think about how your opinion is going to be received. Although your intentions are always at the forefront of your mind, your criticisms towards others are most likely not going to be received with your intentions attached to the message. For anyone who is constantly criticizing another, it is important to use therapy as a tool to figure out why they have this pattern of behavior, and create a plan to actively challenge the behavior.
• Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of anger. Many people who find conflict to be uncomfortable opt to express their feelings of anger in an indirect way. People who tend to use passive-aggressive behaviors to get a message across will use humor to mask their feelings of anger, irritation, or upset. Passive-aggressive behavior is toxic because it inhibits you from talking about your true feelings.
Instead of acting passive-aggressively, if you are unhappy about something, address the way you are feeling with whoever is involved in the situation. Being honest will help the situation become clear to others, without having to use back-handed means of letting others know how you feel.
• Avoiding Intimacy
Avoiding emotional intimacy is one way that people avoid getting close to others. Basically, when you avoid intimacy you are avoiding emotional connections with other people, which is a toxic way of keeping others at a distance. Many people avoid emotional intimacy as a way to protect themselves from getting hurt from others, but the process actually leaves you very disconnected from others and feeling like no one really knows you.
Instead of avoiding emotional intimacy, try opening up to another person little-by-little. Start sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person, and include your issues with making emotional connections with others— being open and honest is always best. Also, discuss these behavioral patterns with your therapist to understand why you are avoiding intimacy, so that you can make the necessary changes to create emotional connections with others. This behavior is especially important to work on, as emotional connections in relationships contribute to a meaningful life.
• Not Showing Up for Others
Being absent in someone else’s time of need is a toxic behavior that perpetuates the selfish nature of addiction. Just because you have put down the drink or drug does not mean that you will all of a sudden change your addict behaviors. Showing up for others does not have to be physically showing up for them, but it could mean emotionally showing up for them. Support goes a long way, so vowing to be there for your loved ones means very little unless you are there to provide emotional support to them when they need it.
Provide friends and family with support by showing up for them in their time of need, as those loved ones have done for you. Remember, actions speak louder than words. If you tell another person you are there for them, it’s different than actually providing emotional support to that person.
• Hiding Your Problems
Being deceitful about your issues is a toxic behavior, as it does not give others the chance to fully understand what you are going through. Many people hide their problems because they feel shame about them, however, hiding your problems will prevent you from working on them. It is extremely important in addiction recovery to lay all of your issues out, so that the intensive therapy we provide can begin to help you.
Be transparent with others and yourself, sharing openly will provide you with the support you need and probably lead to people trying to help you with solutions you may not have thought of on your own.
• Being Preoccupied
When you are overly distracted, you may not recognize yourself as engaging in toxic behavior, however, being preoccupied puts strain on your relationships. Being constantly distracted leaves relationships with no conflict, but also no growth. You leave the relationships you are in strained, because you have no time to devote to the other person. Healthy relationships need to be nurtured, with reciprocity you should be giving and taking from the relationship equally, but preoccupation disrupts this healthy process.
If you are always preoccupied, try setting aside times to check in with the other people in your life. Designate time to devote to your relationships, away from the distractions that pull you away from healthy relationships.

How Do I Stop My Toxic Behaviors?

If you see yourself engaging in any of the toxic behaviors above, the healthiest way to deal with them is by talking to your therapist to begin to challenge these behaviors. Many people with a substance use disorder may also have a mental health disorder, which will skew their behaviors and ultimately need to be addressed separately to show results. Signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder in addition to substance abuse, will be evaluated by our medical professional staff in order to determine the most effective course of action in addiction treatment.

How We Challenge Toxic Behaviors

There is a difference between having toxic behaviors and being a toxic person, and this all has to do with intention. Working on your toxic behaviors will make a massive change in the way you interact with others, and the way others will interact with you. At Royal Life Centers, we address toxic behaviors using behavioral therapies. Our treatment options provide cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, in addition to other intensive therapies. We provide short term tools that create a long term difference in the way our guests communicate and act with others. Our group therapy models are also especially helpful in challenging toxic behaviors, as group members are encouraged to share feedback on their experience of others— which give guests an idea of how their behaviors are viewed from an objective third-party source.

Our Treatment

Royal Life Centers provides addiction treatment programs that are designed to follow our guests through the stages of the recovery process. Royal Life Centers offers programs including: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. Our programs address alcohol and drug abuse, whether that be prescription or illicit drugs, with intensive therapies. We address toxic behaviors through intensive behavioral therapies as well.
Reference:
Gillihan, Seth J. “You May Have Toxic Behaviors You’re Not Aware Of.” WebMD, WebMD, 2 Apr. 2019, blogs.webmd.com/mental-health/20190402/you-may-have-toxic-behaviors-youre-not-aware-of.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to our addiction specialists at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team is available to take your call 24/7. Because We Care.

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