I hope you all enjoyed part I of my exclusive interview with Dr. Drew yesterday, because I'm back to share part II with you today! There's a lot to cover so I'll get straight to the point — enjoy!
How has dating changed since you started Loveline 25 years ago?
Well the whole hookup culture has now become institutionalized. Before it was not so mainstream. One-night stands were considered relatively disdainful and problematic. Now it's considered the cornerstone of your social life.
What are some of the commonalities and differences between dealing with sex and addiction?
Prepare yourself because I'm going to talk for a couple of minutes about this! One is that sexuality and drugs and alcohol are reinforced in precisely the same part of the brain. So sexual addiction, sexual compulsion, and drug and alcohol addiction really biologically, are really very closely related. And they are also very much about trying to find solutions to emotional disregulation. We have such destroyed family systems in our culture today that people don't get what they need to develop a flexible capacity for emotional regulation. They look to the culture for solutions to that, and the kinds of solutions our culture offers them are drugs, alcohol, and sex; so sex becomes a drug in our culture, when in reality, it's not that, it's a very deeply embedded component of our interpersonal and our emotional life. And we've taken it away from that — we've just expunged it from all that. Not only that, the hookup culture is always an intoxicating experience — always. So it's fueling not only addiction, but substance abuse, and my constant question to college age kids is, well if that's such a cool thing that it needs to be the cornerstone of your social life, why the hell do you always have to be intoxicated? Why is it always an intoxicating experience? And what you find is, they're intoxicated because they are trying to, again, regulate their emotions, trying to suppress feelings, or medicate away feelings in order to tolerate the hookup culture, so it's deeply interconnected on many, many levels.
To hear more from Dr. Drew,
What advice do you have for someone that is in a relationship with an addict?
Go to Al-Anon. Either get out or go to Al-Anon — those are your two choices. If you do neither of those, you are part of the disease and part of the problem.
So do you think a relationship can make it through an addiction?
Yeah, but I tell this to families all the time. If you do not go to a therapist and/or a 12-step program yourself, you are participating in the demise of the person you love. If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. So to not do anything and expect the addict to get better, the addict will either A) not get better or B) the relationship will not survive.
What's your secret to having a successful relationship after 18 years of marriage?
Oh man, this is complicated, but I do have an opinion about it! I do believe that passionate connection — passionate attraction is important, but it's traitorous. And you have to be prepared, because often times what creates passion is the sickest part of one person connecting with the sickest part of another — so you have to be prepared to do something called process. You have to be prepared to go to therapy, get mental health services when you need to, and work things through — always make sure that you avail yourself of support. Commitment is the other thing — commit to stay in with the relationship, but don't expect things to change if you don't reach out for help. The best thing in the world is a passionate relationship with what we call process.