By Heather Pidcock-Reed

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Introduction ................................................................................. 7 Chapter 1: What Is Toxic Relationship Addiction? . ............. 11 Chapter 2: The Negative Mental and Physical Effects of Toxic Relationship Addiction . ............ 27 Chapter 3: Treating Toxic Relationship Addiction ................ 43 Chapter 4: The Impact of Toxic Relationship Addiction on Loved Ones . .................................... 59 Glossary of Key Terms . ............................................................. 70 Further Reading and Internet Resources ............................... 74 Index . .......................................................................................... 75 Credits . ....................................................................................... 79 Author’s Biography ................................................................... 80 KEY ICONS TO LOOK FOR: Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.



We live in stressful times. The COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and other ongoing challenges (such as poverty, racism, serious damage to the environment, job loss, financial distress, and the illnesses and deaths of loved ones) have raised stress to record levels. “These compounding stressors are having real consequences on our minds and bodies,” according to the American Psychological Association, which says that these and other problems are causing a “national mental health crisis” in the United States. The situation is the same or even worse in other countries around the world. As a result, many people are abusing drugs and alcohol more frequently and/or engaging in other addictive behaviors to reduce stress and blunt the pain of the loss of loved ones, relationships, homes, or jobs, or other serious life events. One example is the rising number of drug overdoses, which have been fueled by the growing use and spread of the deadly opioid fentanyl. Nearly 100,000 Americans died from overdoses from June 2020 to June 2021—an 18.2 percent increase from June 2019 to June 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other addictions—such as problem gambling or spending too much time on social media or playing video games—are not typically physically dangerous, but they



can damage our mental health, cause us to lose focus on important things in life (e.g., our families, relationships, faith, or careers), and otherwise downgrade the quality of our lives. For those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or who have unhealthy relationships with food, their spouses or other family members, gambling, or even shopping or social media, it can seem daunting to overcome these challenges, especially given the ongoing stressors in their lives. But there is hope for anyone who feels that they are controlled by an addiction or who seeks to otherwise re balance their lives. They will have a bright future if they seek help with their addictions from friends and families, and, most significantly, from counselors, physicians, and clinicians (such as psychologists and psychiatrists). Each book in the Detoxing from series spotlights a major addiction; discusses the negative physical and mental effects of the addiction on the addict, as well as its effects on family and other loved ones; and provides an overview of treatment strategies for the addiction. Stories of those who are battling addictions are also featured to humanize these issues and help readers better understand that anyone—from young and old, to the wealthy, middle class, or the poor, to those who have a PhD or who are still in high school—can develop toxic relationships with spouses or other loved ones, drugs, alcohol, gambling, and/or other behaviors. The path to detoxing from toxic relationships, drugs, alcohol, problem gambling, and other challenges will not be easy—and there may be bumps in the road. But there will be happiness, healing, and the opportunity for personal growth and success for those who continue walking on the road of recovery.



depression: a serious medical illness that causes a person to think negative thoughts and feel listless, sad, and worthless; lose their appetite; have trouble concentrating; have difficulty sleeping; have thoughts of death or suicide; and exhibit other symptoms detrimental: harmful innate: inborn or natural neurological system: a highly complex system that consists of the

brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control the body self-esteem: how we view and perceive ourselves


1 Chapter

What Is Toxic Relationship Addiction?

The Value of Relationships A healthy relationship consists of lots of mutual support,

encouragement, and companionship that enriches a person’s life. However, some relationships are unhealthy and destructive to one or both people within the relationship. These relationships involve lots of “drama” and a lack of support, and they may also consist of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. Simply put, these relationships are toxic. Relationships that are classified as toxic can make you feel bad about yourself. They can cause significant damage to your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. They can lead to anxiety and depression , and they can even cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’ve ever seen someone change in a negative way due to being in a toxic relationship, then you’ve seen the kind of damage that toxic individuals leave in their wake. You may be wondering how or why someone could ever get into a relationship that leaves them feeling so badly. You may also wonder why they can’t seem to pull themselves out of it. To understand the dynamics behind toxic relationships, you first need to understand how and why we form relationships with people.


Many people associate toxic relationships with romantic relationships, but almost anyone—including coworkers—can become involved in a toxic interaction.


Detoxing from a Toxic Relationship

Why We Have Relationships with Others

Developing relationships with others is an essential part of being human. Our need to form connections with others is deeply engrained in us due to the evolution of humanity. As early humans evolved, they began banding together in groups to become better hunters. These groups also allowed them to better protect themselves against predators. Early humans needed others to survive. As time went on, and human beings evolved further, we kept this instinct to form relationships with other people. While we all have an innate desire to form strong social bonds with others, some relationships are toxic to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. While romantic relationships are generally

Some people may not realize that they have been involved in a toxic relationship until many years, or even decades, have passed.


What Is Toxic Relationship Addiction?

People in healthy relationships enjoy helping one another and spending time together.


Healthy Relationships

Love Mutual respect Trust Honesty Helpful

Anger control Disagreeing respectfully

Problem solving Understanding Self-confidence Kindness Thoughtfulness

Compromise Individuality Good communication


Detoxing from a Toxic Relationship

An example of extreme toxic behavior. If anyone physically attacks you, leave the situation immediately and report the incident to the police.

Unhealthy Relationships

Efforts to control Poor or no communication Hostility

Overdependence Intimidation Mental abuse Physical violence

Dishonesty Disrespect

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control


What Is Toxic Relationship Addiction?

the first type of relationship that comes to mind when thinking about toxic relationships, unhealthy relationships can also form between family members, friends, or colleagues. Due to our neurological system , toxic relationships can even become addictive. Before we delve into the biological reasons why these relationships happen, we need to know what exactly a toxic relationship is. What Is a Toxic Relationship? According to Dr. Lillian Glass, an expert on communications and the psychology of human behavior, a toxic relationship is “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect, and a lack of cohesiveness.” This relationship could be with a romantic partner, a parent, a sibling, another relative, a friend, a schoolmate, or a coworker. Toxic relationships tend to feel incredibly draining to the people who are within them. There seems to be a constant push and pull between both parties in the relationship, and the negative experiences tend to far outnumber the positive experiences that occur within the relationship. A toxic relationship can consist of emotional and verbal abuse, as well as physical abuse. In most instances, even less serious ones, a toxic relationship can lead to emotional damage to one or both people within the relationship. Signs of being in a toxic relationship include isolation, blaming, jealousy, dishonesty, denial, gaslighting, constantly arguing or disagreeing, and giving in to everything the other partner wants, according to Psychology Today . Most people don’t recognize that they are in a toxic relationship until months or even years have passed. That’s because toxic partners are good at hiding the toxic aspects of their personality while they are still within the early stages of a relationship. Over time, as a relationship progresses, the toxic partner


Detoxing from a Toxic Relationship

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