Addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by the uncontrollable need for drugs or alcohol, and in most cases, the only way to overcome an addiction is with abstinence or a self-enforced restraint from indulging in any sort of drug or alcohol use. The same is true for recovering from codependency, also known as “relationship addiction,” a disorder in which an individual develops an excessive emotional or psychological dependence on a close friend or loved one, where one person relies on the other to meet nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. With addiction-related codependency, the two harmful behaviors can reinforce one another.
What is Addiction-Related Codependency?
Addiction-related codependency is a destructive relationship pattern in which one person, the caretaker, puts another person, the addict’s, needs before his own, and this can affect the caretaker’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. In some cases, the codependency can extend even further, to the point where the caretaker begins making significant life decisions for the addict, which ultimately affects the addict’s ability to act independently. Unfortunately, when codependency and addiction occur together, which is common, recovery can become even more difficult for the addict, as the codependent relationship may begin to directly contribute to the addict maintaining the unhealthy addictive behavior.
Codependency was originally associated with the partners of alcoholics, and codependency and addiction are still very closely related. This is because addicts typically experience a host of problems stemming from their substance abuse, such as issues with money, problems at work, and difficulties in personal and professional relationships and an addict’s codependent partner learns to do everything possible to support the addict through these difficult times, lending money, covering up mistakes, offering support, and so on. Although the caretaker may pass this off as an effort to help the addict get sober, the codependency only reinforces the addictive behavior, and the difficult life circumstances are never actually resolved.
Learning How to Stop Enabling an Addict
All too often, the caretaker in addiction-related codependency, the friend or family member experiencing the most emotional pain, a caring individual who has unknowingly transformed legitimate concern about the addict into obsessive worry, an unhealthy emotion often accompanied by resentment, bitterness, and feelings of self-pity. The first step in overcoming the codependency that comes with addiction is learning about the destructive cycle of addiction and the role it plays in your relationship with your friend or loved one. It’s important that you, as the caretaker, learn how to stop enabling the addict in your codependent relationship, so that you can both make meaningful changes in your lives and begin the healing process.
One way to stop enabling an alcoholic, a method called “detachment,” involves the caretaker deliberately removing him or herself from the relationship and allowing the addict to learn from his or her mistakes. Detaching from a codependent relationship also means the caretaker becomes responsible for his or her own welfare and begins making important life decisions without the underlying motive of controlling the addict. For example, if a child asks why Mommy wasn’t at her dance recital, instead of lying and covering for her, Daddy can say, “I don’t know why she wasn’t here. You’ll have to ask her.” By refusing to take responsibility for the addict’s alcohol or drug abuse, the caretaker allows the addict to face the natural consequences of his or her behavior, however painful they may be.
Contact the Experts at BRS Rehab Today
Similar to a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, a recovering codependent requires a great deal of help and support and talking to a professional about how not to enable a drug addict is a good start. The substance abuse experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services are trained to treat the myriad problems that typically accompany an addiction disorder, including the destructive cycle of a codependent relationship. If you and someone you love is involved in a codependent relationship, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to a qualified addiction and codependency recovery expert.