Codependency & Addiction
Most people enjoy the feeling that they get when they help someone else. It's the beauty of the appreciation received and that feeling of belonging and happiness when you know you're needed. It is natural to want to do things for others and to depend on and be depended on. However, there is a point when this starts to become unhealthy.
A lot of the time when there is a person in active addiction, one or more of the family members can become codependent. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s actually quite normal. It’s one of the ways that the family unit adjusts around addiction.
What is Codependency?
What is Codependency?
In short, codependency is an emotional attachment to someone else’s wellbeing. When a person becomes codependent, they base the way they feel about themselves on the addicted family members wellbeing.
If the addicted person is upset or doesn’t have what they need then the person who is codependent will feel bad about themselves. They tend to feel a strong urge to help, even if it puts themselves in a bad spot.
Being codependent on a person who is in active addiction is a tumultuous experience. Life will surely be filled with ups and downs (more downs than ups) and as a result, the relationship can very quickly turn unhealthy.
a closer look at codependency
What does this Mean for the Addicted Person?
Unfortunately, while the codependent person thinks that they’re helping, they really aren’t. If the addicted person doesn’t ever feel the consequences of their choices, they won’t see how negative their addiction is.
This isn’t to say that the codependent person is at fault for their loved ones continued using, each person is responsible for his or her own actions. But it is something for the codependent person to think about before bailing their addicted loved one out of a sticky situation.
Where does Codependency Come From?
When someone is in need it is natural for the people who care about them to try to help. Since addiction takes over a person’s life they stop taking care of themselves as they should. An addicted person will stop paying their own bills to make sure they have enough money to get high. Cars get repossessed, evictions happen, or they may go without food – it's just a reality of the fact that addictions progressively get worse.
So it’s normal for the people around them to get into the habit of helping - people with substance use issues do need a lot of help just to survive. As the addiction gets worse and the need for help rises, people begin to feel like it’s their responsibility to make sure that the addicted loved one is okay.
This is where codependency happens.
The codependent person starts to tie their own self-worth into what they can do for their loved one. If they can’t help the loved one them they feel like they aren’t good enough, or that they aren’t doing their job.
How an Interventionalist Can Help
It might be hard, especially for a codependent person, but holding an intervention for the addicted loved one can help everyone in the family.
Talking to an intervention specialist can help the family realize that intervention is the healthiest way to deal with the addiction. Someone who is codependent might need a little extra coaching, and that’s okay, that’s what the intervention specialist is there for.
Our interventionists have dealt with many families and while no situation is exactly the same, they have experience in holding interventions in very similar situations to yours. It’s not unusual to have one or more members of the family that have codependency, and the interventionalist can help your whole family through the intervention.
One thing that your specialist should make clear is, if your loved one happens to choose not to get treatment, the family needs to pull back its support. This will be a little harder for the family members with codependency and the interventionalist can help every step of the way.
If this becomes the case, it’s important for the whole family to support the ones that are struggling with this aspect of it. Codependent or not, tough love is always – tough.
Getting Treatment for Codependency
This might seem a little daunting, and people are often hesitant to get treatment for codependency. Most people think that if the addicted loved one gets help then the codependency will go away on its own. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
When people become codependent, they become reliant on other people, in a similar way as the addicted person relies on substances. Codependency isn’t going to make anyone lose their home, but it does make them lose their sense of self. It’s very important for the person's mental health to get that back.
The good part is that it’s completely doable.
Another aspect of getting treatment for codependency is that it's also best for the addicted family member as well. If they go through treatment and go right back into the same scenario of the codependent person taking care of everything, then it is very easy for them to slip back into their old habits too.
Self-accountability is good for the whole family.
Find an Intervention Specialist
It’s important to find a specialist that meshes well with your family and understands your family's dynamic. Most interventionists have dealt with families that have codependent dynamics. It’s a common thing that happens when one family member is addicted to alcohol or drugs.
We know it’s a hard step to take but an intervention specialist can help the entire family. In fact, in most cases, an addicted person needs their family to help them see that there is a serious problem.
So what you should you do next?
Contact us and get connected to an interventionalist that will work best for your family.
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