Codependency is unfortunately extremely common in families where a loved one struggles with addiction. Codependent people tend to have a very strong need to help others, which draws them to troubled people such as addicts. However, this desire to help can actually cause damage.
What Does Codependency Look Like?
Quite frequently, people in relationships (both romantic and platonic) with drug addicts or alcoholics develop a subconscious “need” for their partner or loved one to continue being addicted. Taking on a caring role makes them feel important and gives them a sense of purpose. However, this doesn’t necessarily work for the benefit of the addict. In fact, a lot of the time it enables them to avoid the consequences of their behavior and prolong their struggle with addiction.
Codependent people typically neglect to use their right to choose their actions and to prioritize their own wellbeing. They are people-pleasers who put others’ needs above their own and while they may think they’re being compassionate, in reality, this behavior is detrimental to both parties.
That’s because on a subconscious level, they may feel like they need their loved one to continue struggling with addiction. Codependents get attached to the volatile and unpredictable relationship they have with the addict and they get a sense of purpose from enabling them. At the same time, addicts may take advantage of the situation and can often make life harder and harder for the codependent person. That’s why both parties are a detriment to each other, but they’re also drawn to the relationship.
Are You Codependent?
You may be codependent if you’re in a relationship with an addict. You may struggle with enforcing boundaries and may be neglecting self-care in favor of helping them out. Some of the hallmarks of codependency include:
- You feel like the addict is the only source of happiness in your life. You can’t imagine your life without them.
- You never put yourself first. You spend most of your energy and love helping the addict.
- When you’re unhappy, you blame the addict in your life. You think that if they chose to act right, they would make you happy.
How to Help Loved Ones Who Struggle with Addiction?
If you find yourself exhibiting codependent behavior, you may start to wonder — well, if I shouldn’t be doing that, how can I help the addict in my life?
This is perfectly understandable, it can be incredibly difficult to watch a loved one struggle. However, you’re best off avoiding enabling behaviors such as lending them money, offering them a place to live if they get evicted, helping them cover up their messes, or lying on their behalf. These seemingly helpful acting can in reality shield the addict from the consequences of their actions and therefore prolong their struggle with addiction.
Are They Ready to Find Help?
It’s crucial to keep in mind that you can’t force and convince someone to recover from addiction. The only way they can start healing is if they make the decision themselves and fully commit to getting better. However, once they’re ready to start recovery, you’re best off referring to an evidence-based program that specializes in helping addicts heal and move forward. Contact usat Baystate Recovery Services to talk about the best options for your loved one.