This is a subject that I have learned only recently and have developed a publication since I felt it was such an epiphany to myself. I am sure that within addiction many people do not even understand or are aware of this happening. It’s a lengthy read but does touch on each point and how to help yourself or loved one move past it. There are 9 key points to get through in this read.
If you have yet to realize by now that co-addiction is something you did not expect to deal with then you are probably reading these words with a sense of enlightenment. The feelings you have experience you have simply felt were a way of supporting someone you loved and cared for. It was unfortunate for myself that it was after many years and consequences that heavy decisions were made. I was not even aware consciously of this word even as being a part of my life. There is hope for your loved one but the hurtful truth is that sometimes you need to see that you may now need more help than even them.
The recovery that must take place for co-addicts can at times be even further lasting than those of even someone who has been able to recover from the sickness of addiction. I am hoping that by recognizing these key areas you also can finally attribute certain behaviors and areas in your life that until now you felt no place existed for. If we are not aware of certain factors within addictions then it is easy for us to become co-addicts to the very thing that has consumed the lives of those we care for. If left unaddressed these things will go on to cause issues even within future relationships and our lives without even knowing where they are rooted.
The goal is not to over-analyze the effects of addiction but to show through experience that perhaps many of the things you were not struggling with before are from parts of your life that truly were not your own. Addiction is not just and addict problem. It is a disease that affects everyone who comes into contact with an addict.
Friends, family, co-workers, an ongoing addiction destroys and disrupts the mental and physical health of every home, workplace and activity that it interacts with. It breaks down the unity of homes, friendships, relationships and every day activities. Addicts learn to distance themselves from individuals they feel are expendable and can find reasons to stop activities and things that do not support their addiction. If the addict is seeking recovery this factor at times is even more so magnified through ongoing hurtful actions that seek to define what is supporting those recovery goals.
It is often most felt within the non-expendable family relationships that there is the most work to done. Non addict relationships have a role to play in recovery, to help heal the dysfunctional roles that they likely wound up playing during someone’s active addiction behavior. At times there is no recovery help for an addict from these sources and to focus too much on the addiction itself does an injustice to your own recovery.
When someone you love is on a dangerous path it is common that people become desperate in their efforts to steer them in an opposite direction. While intentions start out good, this preoccupation with “helping” or “saving” the other individual becomes increasingly damaging to both parties. When someone you love is on a dangerous path it is common that people become desperate in their efforts to steer them in an opposite direction. While intentions start out good, this preoccupation with “helping” or “saving” the other individual becomes increasingly damaging to both parties.
Out of love and the fear of something horrific happening, many loved ones end up becoming consumed with their plight to so wholly that they end up forgoing all personal care and attention to their own lives as they delve into the abyss that their loved one is sinking into. Anxiety, depression, and even increased substance use by the family members is likely to escalate as they become so locked in fear, worry, and resentment that they too start to experience and extreme sense of loss of control and despair.
As anger and other emotions increase, there is little room for peace and serenity to exist. It becomes further difficult when our emotions play an equal part to the addiction we have not chosen as our own but have grown to love. It is this manifestation of our affection towards the recovery of our loved one that binds us to the urges that satisfy and also destroy.
The pre-occupation that we develop is at times as great as the initial emotion we had when we attached our selves to the particular someone. The main factor within any addiction and relationship is love.As with any addiction we now have become satisfied by the parts that we remember as good.
We by now have even ourselves began to think that this is part our own life and perhaps we do not deserve to be free of the addiction as well.
These realities are not to discourage you from continuing to be a support to those with addiction but to help guide ourselves as well to not become someone who furthers an addiction through our care or love. Loving someone with an issue that plays a significant role in all lives is no easy task, it is commendable and biblical principles to give this type of love. This does not mean we become so involved in the addiction to the point we become an unknown enabler through fear or hopes of repairing the things they are damaging. In active addiction, collusion is how we describe codependent and enabling relationships that work together to hide the addiction and it’s negative effects from the outside world. For example, a spouse that is helping to conceal the true difficulties their partner is having may make help make excuses to friends, family, and employers by validating that their spouse was sick, busy, or upset at any particular time and therefore failed to uphold responsibilities and engagements.
Collusion is a lens of dysfunctional protection that is inappropriately used to shield an addict from the realities of cause and effect and actually enables continued use. In cases of severe financial strain, family members may begin to sell personal assets and/or increase their own workload in order to compensate for the effects of a loved one’s cost of addiction.
Overlooking problems that you know are there, blaming external factors, and minimizing the seriousness of what is happening around you are all examples of collusion.
A promise does not mean we continue to enable someone to hurt us or themselves.
We will justify our actions due to fear of further damage to our relationships, fear of retaliation or actions. This may cause some obstacles that others do not understand. Even if we understand and recognize that we are helpfully enabling someone to be addicted, to use or abuse an action or substance.
This is not just as simple as recognizing that we are helping, it is much more intense when we have fear of the consequences when we do not help.
It is very important as impossible as it seems, to make a choice to remove yourself from these types of situations. Based upon love, this is not at all how love is expressed. You may feel as if you are abandoning or bailing out. You may even worry of how you will be seen to others. Friends, your family, their family. Your recovery is going to have to come first before them ever recovering. If this is not possible then there is no way they will be able to stop those actions against you.
Helping someone maintain denial over and addiction or problme may feel like the safest thing to do within most serious relationshipos or issues. The facty is that you are only hurting further the process in whihc each of you will have to go through to realizing the issues exist. It is better to try to address solutions even if it is painful to do so and bringing the reality of the addiction forward. It is not until the actual acceptance that there is an addiction that the ways to work through it can begin. In this you can either break away from the relationship with know you have not enabled further damage to the one you love or you can start this process with them.
Denial is the most abundant theme in addiction that has no home in recovery. It can be very hard for an addict to admit that they do in fact have a problem. In my own experience you may even have a growing fear of using the word with someone whom you love a great deal. Even after this obstacle is overcome it will not mean that admitting the addiction has left lasting effects on all involved will happen. Additionally it can be really hard for others to admit that their loved one does in fact, have an addiction. It can be overwhelmingly hard for loved ones to admit that they have inadvertently played a role in how that addiction developed and continued for such a long period of time. Denial is a wall that must be knocked down as everyone realizes that there is no blame to be placed. Healing requires the humble acceptance of truths, and opens up a new path of tasks to be taken so that your family can move into a healthier state of being.
If we do not recognize during this process or understand our part and own denial then we will carry this aspect of addiction over into other areas of life. The fact is that denial is what has allowed us to try and accept many of the other things within our relationship and allowing ourselves to live with fear or acceptance of our own actions or inaction.
Chaos is the state of active addiction. As feeling of shame, guilt, isolation, and despair grow, both addicts and their loved ones coming begin lashing out as a way of blowing off steam. When daily crises become the norm, everyone begins operating off of their primal fight or flight instinct as a means of automatic self-preservation. The main problem with prolonged states of emotional turmoil is that it is impossible to address root causes and/or escape from the cycle of chaos because as everyone’s emotions are up, the ability for anyone to think or see the situation logically substantially decreases.
The sneakiest behaviors that exist during active addiction are the threads of manipulation that emerge as relationships sway and participants vie for control amidst the instability. While addicts frequently manipulate for time and financial resources to use, family members often leverage assets and emotions in a desperate attempt to stop the use and take care of everything that it slipping through the cracks. It’s important to keep in mind that most manipulation starts out inadvertently as both parties work towards achieving their respective goals. Blaming, bullying, minimizing, withholding finances or affection, and levying ultimatums are all examples of manipulative tactics.
When someone in your life starts to struggle, for whatever reason, it is common that someone else steps in to pick up the slack, and that’s okay…for a while. It’s often the little hiccup situations in life that become the catalyst, or tipping point for a decent into dysfunction or addiction. While everyone deserves a helping hand in times of struggle, it is long periods of excessive responsibility that send you over the edge. Excessive responsibility leads to increased stress for the person towing the line, and allows the other to escape accountability all together.
Compromise or Loss of Self
If you’re primarily focusing on what is happening with someone else, you eventually lose yourself in that endeavor. This is a sticking point, and the main reason that the saying goes, “Codependency lives with addiction”. Addicts can be codependents, and codependents don’t have to be addicts, but the problems are all the same. It doesn’t matter if it happens before, after, or during the active addiction but codependency is a theme that you will need to tackle if you truly want to recover and reduce the opportunity of backsliding into dysfunctional behaviors.
Blame and Punishment
There is no better way to free yourself from the dysfunction of blame and punishment than taking a stand in you’r own accountability for your life and everything that happens in it.
Co-addictive relationships cause dishonesty, loss of self-esteem, & betrayal, among other things. This, combined with the chaos of active addiction, often leaves everyone RADIOACTIVE. Every thought, word, and emotion becomes a ticking time-bomb ready to explode at the top of a hat. Maintaining this level of emotional turmoil only compounds the problems at hand through emotion driven reactions instead of logical actions and solutions. Remember, love is not a feeling – it is actions and commitments in relationships that bring you fulfillment.
I will touch more in-depth on each of these subjects as post update. Always feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions regarding my own experience. I am not a mental health expert but as many others I am sure we are now far more qualified as to how we have been able to cope with these subjects.