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Maintaining Excellent Relationships: By Thomas G. Beley

Maintaining Excellent Relationships: By Thomas G. Beley

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

By: Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW

There is a German fable that states that relationships are like two porcupines trying to keep warm in the dead of winter.  Move in too close, or too quickly, in the anticipation of feeling the warmth, chances are the porcupines are going to experience some discomfort and pain from their respective ill-positioned quills.  Yet, being afraid of getting too close to each other, the porcupines are likely to run the risk of dying from the winter cold.

As individuals, our relationships are not too different than the porcupines.  Whether it is with family, friends, co-workers or strangers, we are constantly in a natural process of trying to determine just how close we need to be with someone while at the same time not sacrificing our own individual beliefs, values, or needs. It is the negotiation of these two natural forces of individuality and togetherness that determines the success of any relationship.  Too much of either or an imbalance can have unsettling effects.

It is important to understand that individuals are subject to an inherent process of trying to reach a successful balance between these two natural forces. Research has shown that this is a process rooted in nature and all living organisms.  Being a part of all life means we have the desire to be our own person yet at the same time desire the safety and security of the group.

Finding Balanced Relationships

In humans, this process happens both consciously and unconsciously.  We seek out relationships that will give us both the opportunity to pursue our own individual needs while at the same time involve ourselves in a relationship that is nurturing and comforting.  Our behavior, whether good, bad, or indifferent, is often influenced by these forces of nature of trying to find that right balance between one’s need for individuality and togetherness.  The successful balance of these two life forces is what brings us a sense of well being and contentment. It is our ability to maintain this delicate balance between individuality and togetherness that determines the quality of any given relationship.

It is also important to note, here, that the quest for individuality or togetherness is not to say that one is more important than the other. They are both extremely critical. However, it is how a person balances these two forces within their life and the relationship systems in place that makes the difference between staying calm and collected and being in a state of turmoil and conflict.

Relationship conflicts often occur when there is an imbalance in these two natural forces. Imbalances can occur both within the individual and within the relationship system itself. A common scenario that often develops is when one person within the relationship system desires more individuality and the other person in the relationship system desires more togetherness and closeness. As is often the case, one person begins to feel overwhelmed in the relationship while the other person may feel neglected. Typically, the person desiring more individuality is running away from the relationship system while the person seeking more closeness is chasing the relationship system.

The Dance of Conflict

This “dance” can occur in a variety of ways.  One such way is when an individual requires an excessive amount of one or the other.  Too much of an individuality influence may make it difficult for that person to make a meaningful connection with others, particularly those who desire more closeness and togetherness. In that desire to achieve a sense of individuality, a person can easily cut him or herself off from others. Along the same lines, a person with a high degree of individuality may find others having a difficult time making a meaningful connection with him or her.  The same holds true for the person needing a great deal of togetherness. The desire to achieve closeness can result in the person becoming excessively dependent on others or not maximizing their own individual potential.

Another common scenario that is when one person desires individuality and the other person is requiring a sense of togetherness.  A person who requires a sense of individuality will likely create a conflict in the relationship system of the person who has the desire to achieve more togetherness.  The same dilemma holds true if two people have inordinate amounts of the same needs.  Two people desiring a great deal of individuality will likely experience the cold of winter.  Two people desiring a great deal of togetherness will likely feel the quills of another person. When there is an imbalance of these needs, anxiety occurs and the potential for conflict exists.

Find What Matters

It is important to emphasize that there is no magic formula that constitutes what is the right amount of togetherness or individuality within a relationship system.  What truly matters is how a person manages their respective needs and the awareness of the needs of the other within the relationship system.

Doctor Thomas G. Beley, Ph.D., LCSW is the Executive Director of Palm Healthcare Company. For over 25 years, Doctor Beley has worked in the field of substance use disorder and mental health disorders. Through the years of helping people who struggle with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues, Doctor Beley has proven to be an expert clinician and an innovative and compassionate leader in the treatment industry. Palm Healthcare Company is grateful to have an executive team with experience and incredible commitment to helping others. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Higher Risk for Hep-C among People with Opioid Addiction

Higher Risk for Hep-C among People with Opioid AddictionThe opioid epidemic continues to reach epidemic numbers, and with the increasing overdoses comes increasing cases of hepatitis C. New cases of hepatitis C have nearly doubled over the past few years. Furthermore, those with opioid addiction are more likely to suffer from a variety of health disorders, complicating treatment for substance use disorder.

Hepatitis C is among the most concerning disorder to affect people with opioid addiction. People who abuse opioids are 9.1 times more likely to have hepatitis-C (HCV), in comparison to those who did not abuse opioids, according to an analysis by the health care company Amino. Amino drew data from the claims of 3.1 million privately insured patients between 2014 and 2016.

As the opioid epidemic spreads throughout the country, new cases of HCV have skyrocketed.  In 2014, there were an estimated 30,500 new cases in the United States. This is nearly double the number of new cases in 2011, according to STAT News.

The CDC reports that new HCV infection is rising specifically among intravenous drug users under 40 years old, particularly in more rural areas. People with opioid use disorder are more likely to drink to excess, and more likely to have suicidal ideation.

While these numbers are shocking, many are not surprised:

“It’s known that people with co-occurring behavioral and mental health issues are at high risk for addiction even when prescribed opioids for a bonafide prescription medical use,” Dr. Anna Lembke, a Stanford University psychiatrist, and opioid addiction expert, told Amino.

However, Lembke was particularly moved by the fact that people with opioid addiction are seven times more likely to suffer from “failed back syndrome,” a chronic condition that is diagnosed following back surgeries.

“What I thought was really interesting was the correlation with failed back syndrome,” she said. “Perhaps failed back syndrome is a risk factor for developing an opioid use disorder—and that could be part of the reason why this community experiences such chronicity and lack of improvement. This is a subgroup that’s especially vulnerable to opioid misuse.”

The data collected by Amino looked at health claims among people with a variety of insurance codes, representing conditions from opioid dependence to opioid abuse in remission. Amino is a private insurer, and the data revealed a sharp increase in opioid abuse specifically among those with private insurance.  According to the data, there was a six-fold increase in opioid-related insurance claimed between 2012 and 2016 among private insurers.

However, Lembke notes that this sharp increase may be underrepresented:

“Patients don’t want to carry them on their charts, and doctors don’t want to stigmatize their patients,” said Lembke. “But they will go ahead and chart it if there’s utility in it. And the utility is you can’t get buprenorphine, methadone maintenance, or naltrexone paid for by a third-party payer unless it’s diagnosed.”

Last month was Hepatitis Awareness Month.  The treatments for hepatitis C have really come a long way, and it no longer as life endangering as It once was. The key is to seek treatment early. Unfortunately, due to the stigma of addiction, many are afraid to get tested.


Studies like these show that the numbers are not improving. Those with opioid addiction seriously need testing to prevent the disease from progressing any further. Please do not feel shame about testing for this disorder. Furthermore, if you are struggling with substance use disorder, please reach out to us. We have the tools to guide you to a sober life. Do not wait. Call today.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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