Addicts and those who live with them likely have some familiarity with codependency.
This doesn’t mean that everyone truly understands codependent relationships or that they recognize the prospective harm that comes from them.
Sean’s adult son Michael has been abusing prescription drugs since he was a teen. Michael is now 30 years old and still lives home. He can’t seem to hold a job. Sean blames his son’s failures on himself.
After all, it was his fault that he married Michael’s mother. She physically tormented their son from an early age.
No matter how many times Sean has tried to help Michael, nothing seems to work. When Sean has come across pills, he’s flushed them down the drain. He was furious when Michael wrote a check from his business account, but still decided not to press charges. How could he do anything to hurt his son?
It took some counseling to help Sean understand. His relationship with Michael was a codependent one.
Sean could not control Michael’s behavior. The father/son dynamic was one-sided in many ways. It wasn’t until Michael nearly died when he overdosed from painkillers that Sean gained insight.
Michael was placed in an inpatient program and has started the recovery process. Sean has learned his role as a codependent parent.
Are You in a Codependent Relationship?
Codependent relationships and addiction often go hand in hand. The parties may be romantically involved or tied together by family. If you suspect that you are codependent, here are some things that may interest you:
- Caretaker versus caregiver: We sometimes hear the terms caretaker and caregiver used interchangeably. However, they are not really the same. Caretaking is indicative of codependency. Caretakers are too busy taking care of others that they forget about themselves. Often, they feel exhausted from the process and want to exert control. On the other hand, caregivers take care of themselves first. They may help when asked, but do so out of love.
- Codependents as martyrs: Codependents often feel that they have sacrificed their own lives for their addicted spouse, son, daughter, etc. They are often resentful.
- Codependency and excuses: Think of Michael’s story above. Sean blamed his son’s addiction on childhood abuse. Although this may have been a contributing factor, Sean has assumed the role of the excuse maker. He accepts Michael’s behavior and expects others to understand.
- Codependent behavior: Someone in a codependent relationship bases their whole life and emotions on the addict’s behavior. They feel pleased when the addict stops using, but are always waiting for a slip. They are depressed when the addict resumes drinking or drugging.
- Codependent Relationships are Harmful: Although most codependent relationships are premised on love, they are harmful. Most times, addicts will continue to use if the consequences are not great enough.
At Clearbrook, we work with both addicts and their families to combat addiction issues.
Clearbrook’s Family Educational Program is available to all family members and loved ones. It is there that you will gain insight into the disease of addiction, how it affects the entire family, and how to work past codependency.
Contact us to see how we can assist you.