Narcissistic Relationship is Like Drug Addiction: Beginning of Trauma Bond

Narcissistic Relationship is Like Drug Addiction: Beginning of Trauma Bond
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In todays video, I want to take you on a journey into the intricate workings of the human brain, specifically focusing on how your relationship with the narcissist creates brain changes that are the same brain changes as drug addiction. Both hijack your brain’s chemical balance. We’ll delve into three crucial brain chemical changes that occur with drug addiction, shedding light on the underlying mechanisms driving this complex and devastating effect the narcissist has on your brain. If you watch through to the end of the video you will have a clear understanding of the narcissist’s affect on your and how it mimics drug addiction.

I’m Lisa Taylor-Austin, licensed psychotherapist and expert witness.

Let’s start with perhaps the most well-known aspect of drug addiction: the dysregulation of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation. When we engage in activities like eating or socializing, our brain releases dopamine, reinforcing those behaviors and encouraging us to repeat them. However, drugs can artificially stimulate dopamine release in the brain, flooding it with unnaturally high levels of this neurotransmitter. This flood of dopamine creates intense feelings of pleasure and euphoria, reinforcing the desire to use the drug again. The narcissist often uses intermittent reinforcement. They will shower you with happy times, attention and providing you with everything you have ever wanted. You are on cloud nine. The covert narcissist will start to devalue you slightly through disappearing, withdrawing or with holding. You are left wanting that next hit or high or positive feelings. This is similar to a drug addict. When they have their drug hit, they become high. When the drug is not available, they sync into a low feeling.

The dysregulation of dopamine underlies the cycle of addiction, driving compulsive drug-seeking and use despite negative consequences. You might find yourself unable to break the bond to the covert, although you know they are not healthy for you. You seek them out, look for their text or call. As soon as it comes there is a chemical rush that happens – you are anxious yet elated at the same time. You are looking for the slightest hint you are still of value to them so you can return to feeling happy.

Another crucial neurotransmitter affected by drug addiction is serotonin. Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, emotions, and sleep. Drugs can disrupt the delicate balance of serotonin in the brain, leading to profound changes in mood and behavior. The covert narcissist can do this to you as well. When the covert doesn’t act happy to see you or is disinterested or moody themselves, this causes a reaction in your of your mood and your feelings of self worth.

Let’s return to drugs again. Drugs like MDMA (ecstasy) and hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin affect serotonin receptors, leading to altered perceptions, mood swings, and in some cases, long-term changes in mood regulation. Similarly, drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can interfere with serotonin reuptake, prolonging its effects and contributing to the intense highs and subsequent crashes experienced by users.
This imbalance in serotonin can contribute to the emotional dysregulation and mood disorders often observed in individuals struggling with addiction, further complicating the recovery process. This is what makes it so hard to break away from the covert narcissist. You find yourself seeking their attention, love, intimate conversations, sex, etc. and because the covert uses positive reinforcement and then negative reinforcement, you are on a perpetual roller coaster ride.

Lastly, let’s discuss the role of glutamate in drug addiction. Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, involved in learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity. Drugs can modulate glutamate transmission, altering the brain’s reward circuitry and reinforcing addictive behaviors. For example, drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine enhance glutamate release in the brain’s reward pathway, strengthening the associations between drug-related cues and the rewarding effects of the substance. This can lead to heightened cravings and increased vulnerability to relapse, even after periods of abstinence.
Additionally, chronic drug use can lead to long-term changes in glutamate receptors and signaling pathways, contributing to the persistent nature of addiction and the difficulty in achieving sustained recovery. Your relationship with the covert causes similar responses. Due to the intermittent reinforcement of the covert: they shower you with attention, devalue you only to shower you again in the future, your brain reacts and responds the very same way. This is one of the reasons that makes it so very hard to leave the covert narcissist. Your brain has been rewired. You know you want to distance yourself from the covert but you keep checking your phone, you keep responding to their texts, you can’t sleep because you are dwelling on whether they will reach out to you or not. This becomes all consuming, until you hear from the covert and then all is well in your world. Your brain gets the hit of the covert and the brain chemicals react – making you have a pleasure response.

Leaving a covert narcissist, just like drug addiction, is not simply a matter of personal choice or moral failing; it’s a complex neurobiological phenomenon characterized by profound changes in brain chemistry. By understanding these three key brain chemical changes – dopamine dysregulation, serotonin imbalance, and glutamate modulation – we can begin to unravel the complexities of addiction and develop more effective strategies for prevention and treatment. Stay tuned for my next video on breaking the trauma bond.

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Thank you for watching and stay tuned for ways to break the trauma bond.