As you work toward a life of sobriety, there may be moments that leave you feeling emotionally drained or overwhelmed. These stressful encounters may trigger negative patterns of behavior which make achieving sobriety goals harder. One of these patterns is known as the drama triangle.

Understanding the impact the drama triangle has on your sobriety can be highly beneficial for your communication skills. It can also help you with building interpersonal relationships at Dream Recovery. 

What Is the Drama Triangle?

The drama triangle is an influential psychological concept describing three roles people often adopt during conflict or “drama.” These three roles are: the persecutor, rescuer, and victim.

People may fluctuate in the role they lean toward, but we often resonate more with one than the others. Understanding how this psychological concept impacts sobriety may help you identify negative habits and strengthen your relationships with others.

The Persecutor

At the center of every drama triangle stands its persecutor. The persecutor is often seen as an aggressor during conflicts. They often use words or actions to intimidate or harm others.

In recovery, different people may assume this role. A loved one who criticizes your choices or a coworker who undermines your sobriety may be acting as a persecutor. Of course, you may find yourself slipping into this role sometimes too. If you use negative language or mindsets to sabotage your recovery, you may be persecuting yourself.

Assuming the role of the persecutor may give a temporary sense of control. However, these feelings can transform into guilt or shame when you realize the harm your behavior has caused. If you find yourself frequently lashing out or using negative language against others, learn to recognize this behavior. Next, work on changing this pattern.

The Rescuer

In the drama triangle, the rescuer tends to act as a mediator. During conflicts, these individuals often go out of their way to assist those they care about, despite the effects on themselves.

When applied to recovery, this role is also unhelpful. For example, a loved one may try to solve your problems for you. A friend may suggest drinking to help you relax from stress. These codependent behaviors prevent you from increasing your competence and confidence.

Assuming the role of rescuer can provide temporary feelings of fulfillment or validation. However, these feelings often fade quickly. After disappearing, they may turn into feelings of resentment or burnout. If you find yourself routinely placing other’s needs before your own, you are neglecting vital self-care. You may be more tempted to use substances to escape from stress. Fortunately, you can recognize this behavior and work toward altering it.

The Victim

In the drama triangle, the person playing the victim role often assumes innocence during conflict. The victim uses their perceived lack of control to garner sympathy or support from those around them.

In recovery, the victim role can be played by different people. Family members may fail to take accountability for their part in unhealthy dynamics. Friends may not accept responsibility for their enabling behaviors. The person with substance use disorder (SUD) may blame their relapse on someone or something else.

Playing the victim role may bring temporary comfort or validation from others. However, this can lead to feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. If you find yourself frequently attributing problems to others rather than taking responsibility for yourself, you may be in the victim role.

Failing to properly address and manage this mindset can reinforce the cycle of addiction. When relapse is always someone else’s fault, you cannot learn what you can do differently in the future. Conversely, stepping out of this role can strengthen your agency in life and make meaningful changes. Over time, this can help you build a life you won’t want to escape.

Breaking Free of the Drama Triangle

Understanding how the drama triangle affects your sobriety is an essential first step. This allows you to break destructive habits and develop healthier relationships.

Once you can identify your unhealthy pattern of behavior, you can take the appropriate steps toward changing that pattern. Therapy may help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular is useful for changing unhelpful thought and behavior patterns.

The Persecutor

If you tend to take on the role of the persecutor, try becoming more self-aware. Notice when your words and actions become destructive and consciously replace them with positive ones. Instead of criticizing others directly, offer constructive feedback or support.

Also, remember that everyone has their own story. It’s not your job to make people live the way you want them to.

The Rescuer

If you find yourself playing the role of rescuer, try to recognize when you put others’ needs above your own. Set healthy boundaries accordingly. Instead of automatically saying yes, consider your needs first.

Allow others to make their own decisions and experience the results. It’s not your job to rescue people.

The Victim

If you tend to play the role of the victim, learn to take responsibility. Realize that you have control over your actions, regardless of what other people do or don’t do. Instead of consistently placing blame elsewhere, consider how you contributed to the situation at hand.

You Can Overcome the Drama Triangle

The drama triangle can have an immense effect on your sobriety and relationships with others. It can reinforce negative patterns of behavior which you need to modify to reach your sobriety goals.

At Dream Recovery, we offer various resources and support programs designed to break you free from this triangle. We want to help you reach your sobriety goals and set yourself up for lasting recovery.

The drama triangle can help you recognize some of your negative habits in relationships with others. If you’re interested in learning more about the drama triangle and how it may be impacting your life, we invite you to explore our resources at Dream Recovery. Our expert team of counselors and therapists can help you identify negative patterns of behavior and provide strategies for breaking free from them. This is an essential aspect of recovery from addiction. To learn more about the drama triangle, the roles within this triangle, which role you tend to play, and how to break free from negative patterns, reach out to Dream Recovery today at (657) 216-7218.

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