You’re always connected to someone you love. This is as much a literal fact in the brain as it is a philosophical fact for getting through a breakup. No, you’ll never forget someone you fell in love with and developed a deep connection with. You’ll be connected for the rest of your life. That is, at least, according to the connections of your neural pathways.
Relationships are habitual. They are attachments we develop and associate with pleasure, reward, and security. When we spend an exorbitant amount of intimate time with someone for years or months on end as we do in relationships, we create a lot of patterns in the brain. Those patterns are not easily forgotten, no matter how badly we wish they could be.
According to Discover Magazine, “Experts say the neurological attachment that happens between young lovers is not unlike the attachment a baby forms with its mother. Hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin are key in helping create a sense of closeness in relationships and play a starring role in both scenarios.” Having significant intimate experiences with that person makes the connection even more strong. “Such preferential encoding in the brain is one reason why stories of people reconnecting with a high school or college flame are commonplace.”
Old flames can cause haywire in circuitry for those in recovery from addiction. Coupling the neuroscience of a relationship with the neuroscience of addiction creates a tenfold of ‘preferential encoding’ in the brain. Most people new to recovery who aren’t in a relationship are advised to stay out of one for at least their first year. For those who are in a relationship unhealthy and toxic to their recovery, they are encouraged to walk away. It isn’t because of the threat, the distraction, or the drama. When one partner tries to get sober and the other partner continues using, there is a constant reminder of those neural pathways which highlight the connection between partner and using drugs. Too often people in recovery relapse because of rekindling an old flame with an ex who is still using. It takes little wooing to light up the circuitry in the brain which says this person is a good idea and using drugs with them is an even better one.
Recovery is about learning to live, one day at a time. Learning to have a healthy relationship with yourself will ensure your ability to have healthy relationships in the future. Avalon Malibu happily provides relationship counseling and therapy to those who are committed and wish to work on both relationships during their time of treatment. In recovery, everyone has an opportunity to heal. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call 1 888-958-7511.