Many addicts and alcoholics – and their family members – are familiar with codependency and addiction. For family members of addicts and alcoholics, this can mean enabling addictive behavior. For people in active addiction and recovery, codependence can be a road of use and even relapse. Addressing codependence and addiction is vital to achieving long-term recovery.
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What is Codependency?
Co-dependency refers to a behavioral condition in relationships. When this happens, one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, irresponsibility, or other negative behaviors. Co-dependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of.
Signs of Codependency
Codependence can show up in many forms. It can be hard to identify, especially when someone is in active addiction. The stress, fear, and difficulty of addiction can sometimes overshadow codependence.
Some signs that you might be struggling with codependence may include giving up significant obligations to tend to someone else’s needs. Codependence tendencies include struggling to function without knowing that the other person is feeling okay and content.
Also, having emotions based on another person’s feelings. For example, if you have a great day, and your partner, child, or friend is in a bad mood, your mood might shift to match theirs. Additionally, exhibiting enabling behaviors, such as the inability to say no.
As a result, codependent individuals experience feelings of being resentful for all of the other person’s support, but not being able to stop. Alternatively, extreme guilt and anxiety are also universal emotions experienced by those struggling with co-dependency.
Codependent Characteristics to Beware Of
Codependent behavior can be quite dangerous for those struggling with addictions. When addicts aren’t faced with demands to change their unhealthy behaviors, they don’t take their illness seriously. Common types of codependent behavior include:
- A tendency to maintain unhealthy relationships with toxic individuals to avoid feelings of abandonment.
- A constant and extreme need for approval and recognition in all areas of their lives
- A strong sense of guilt when asserting themselves
- A compelling need to control others and other’s situations
- Difficulty identifying feelings confusing love for pity
- Problems with intimacy, boundaries, and adjusting to change
Most people are unaware that they’re exhibiting codependent behavior and taking the role of the enabler in their loved one’s addiction. Here are some examples of enabling behavior:
- They are taking over the responsibilities of the addict
- Making excuses or going through great lengths to cover up the errors and accidents of the addict
- Going along with the addict’s excuses to continue their substance abuse
- Helping the addict get out of financial, social, and legal problems related to their substance abuse
- Cleaning up after the addict
Why Codependency and Addiction Go Hand in Hand?
Co-dependency is a reasonably common problem in relationships where addiction is present. This common phenomenon is known as relationship addiction. This co-dependency relationship is often emotionally one-sided and can be destructive to both partners.
For addicts and alcoholics in recovery, codependence can be a vital stumbling block. In a codependent relationship, the other person becomes the most important thing. As a result, this can lead to skipping meetings to spend time with them or, in extreme cases, relapsing when the relationship ends or if the other person starts using drugs again. To maintain recovery, addicts and alcoholics must balance their relationships with their program.
For loved ones of addicts and alcoholics, codependence can significantly impact the addict and the loved one. For example, codependence can breed resentment and anger. If you find yourself enabling the codependent person, you may experience a build-up of sadness, fear, anger, resentment, and lack of connection.
These emotions could impact every aspect of life if they are treated. Codependence and enabling can also fuel addiction. If you can’t say no to a drug and alcohol addict, you can unintentionally support or fund their addiction. For the family and the addict to recovery, both codependence and addiction need proper attention.
How to Fight Codependency?
For addicts and alcoholics in recovery, there are several options for coping with and reducing codependence and managing this destructive behavior. For example, the twelve-step program Codependents Anonymous offers mutual support and accountability to help members establish healthy relationships. Individual, and even couple’s therapy, can also help deal with codependency, resentment, and unhealthy balances in relationships.
Family members and loved ones often face difficulty with codependence when a loved one enters treatment. Many desire new, healthier relationships, but don’t have the tools or support they need to create new habits. Thus, at Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer a specific, in-depth family program.
Generally, this includes contact with our family support liaison, family therapy sessions, and regular contact with therapists throughout your loved one’s treatment. Thus, our goal is to help the whole family recover and move into honest relationships.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
One of the most critical self-care actions family members of addicts can learn how to set healthy boundaries. Sometimes known as “detaching with love,” these boundaries are incredibly important. Most of the time, family members struggling with substance use lack healthy boundaries; sometimes, these boundaries are non-existent, promoting a toxic environment in the household.
Instead of focusing on oneself, family members tend to put their needs aside to keep their loved one’s drug abuse afloat. Therapy can help them learn how to develop a self-care practice that promotes their well-being and strives for a more balanced lifestyle.
Getting Help Today
It’s not easy to live in a family unit with a family member who suffers from addiction. Thankfully, through comprehensive drug addiction treatment and family resources, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait any longer; seek treatment today.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction therapists prioritize involving the family in every step of the recovery journey. We know how valuable having the support of the family unit can be toward recovery. Learn more about our addiction recovery program and family therapy options today.