Relinquishment and Addiction: Are They Related and Why is it Important for Us to Know?

Interested in learning more about the relationship between relinquishment/separation from family or origin and addiction?  David B. Bohl writes about this topic, and you can read some of his work here:

Adoptee Story: David B. Bohl

Fellow adoptee David shares his story with us. He talks about the moment he learned shame in connection to his adoption, as well as the confusion and hurt in that. A hurt that could not and should not be ignored, because ignoring it just fuels the fire of shame…


Relinquishment (Adoption) and Addiction (Recovery) – Your Kaleidoscope

Before fighting your demons challenges, you need to know your demons challenges. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for someone who has the double-whammy of Adoption and Addiction present in her/his life is being able to identify what happened as traumatic. I don’t want to use that word lightly, but it is no longer the word that can only be applied to those of us who have been in combat. Research doesn’t lie. Consider some of these findings: …


What Came First – The Addiction or the Trauma?  Where Am I Going Next?

I have no way of knowing if I would be a person suffering – and now recovered – from addiction had I had a different life. Were I never relinquished at the age of seven days old, would I have experienced the loss of identity and challenges that I have?  I will never know. I will also never know if my biological mother would have perhaps remained sober had she not given her baby up for adoption. I will never know if being raised by a birth mother who drank would cause me to drink – or would it turn me off drinking so hard that I would never try it myself? All I know is that I was relinquished, and I grew up with a loving mom and dad and siblings. Yet, I felt a sense of shame and difference so great that it eventually caused me to reach for alcohol. Was my family’s love not enough to stop what was genetically encoded in me? (Both biological parents most likely have suffered from addiction.) Or was my family’s love enough, yet I was too traumatized by my relinquishment that no amount of it would be able to arrest me from medicating with booze?  The permutations are, frankly, endless.


I am Unique. So Are You: At The Intersection of Relinquishment and Addiction

Growing up, I’d always felt that I was different from my peers. I struggled with identity, as I didn’t have any biological markers to draw on, and I was always feeling ashamed. I know today that I suffered from what is known as “Identity Crisis” – a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society,” as coined by the German developmental psychologist Erik Erikson. It’s no stretch to apply Erikson’s developmental work and say that adoptive children have more difficult and less culturally supported developmental tasks to achieve than those in a functioning biologically-related family.


David B. Bohl, MA, CSAC, MAC, is a relinquishee and adoptee, a professional independent addiction and recovery consultant at Beacon Confidential LLC, and a former consumer of substance use disorder and mental health services. He is also a writer, a speaker, and the author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth, a memoir that chronicles the intersection of adoption and addiction in his life. 

David lives in southeastern Wisconsin and works around and outside of the state. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 40 years and adult children, and relentlessly pursues Blue Mind (that mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment) that comes from being in and around the water). 

Photo by John Lockwood on Unsplash.


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