It’s a choice, usually a subconscious one, to invest your life and well-being into that of another person. If that other person happens to be a fellow addict—which they often are—you’re not just codependent: you’re co-addicted, too. In addiction recovery, co-addiction is seldom addressed directly. Co-addictions come to light when determining whether or not a patient is co-dependent on someone–typically an enabler–at home.
If you ask a co-addict which person they neglect the most, they’ll probably mention their child, their friend, a parent, or a client. The correct answer would be “Me.” If co-addicts cared for themselves the way anyone should, they wouldn’t be able to invest so much time and energy into the addict at home. Enabling an addict can be a full-time job.
Codependent Relationships in Recovery
The willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of others is a fantastic quality to possess. Giving isn’t always the same as helping, however. Self-sacrifice can quickly turn into self-neglect…which leads to low-self esteem…which leads to more self-sacrifice. To outsiders, co-dependent behavior may look like an attempt to control another person, but it’s not control that the co-addict is seeking, nor is it power. It’s self-worth.
Making someone else feel happy makes you feel happy, if only for a little while. Behavioral psychologists believe codependent individuals expect to have their efforts recognized and appreciated, which is seldom the reality when it comes to enablers. Like any other kind of addict, co-addicts abuse their fix—their love for the addict—until it wreaks havoc on their everyday lives. School, work, and hobbies take a backseat to their love. From their point of view, this person needs them now more than ever.
Codependency and Co-Addiction
Co-addicts must make a wholehearted decision to put the focus back on themselves. Family-focused recovery programs do a good job honing in on the cycle of co-addiction and the propensities of co-dependency. The more education the co-addict receives on the matter, the more aware they become of their own self-neglecting habits. In treatment, co-addicts learn that they can defend their own well-being without neglecting the other person’s. Ideally, patients with addicted loved ones will be prompted to bring those individuals along to participate in their meetings. No amount of love can trump the training and qualifications of a licensed support team.
Giving up a co-addiction can make someone feel like a monster. A harsh, painful ultimatum might be necessary, but it’s hard to realize—or accept—this course of action on your own. If it feels like things are getting out of control, it’s probably time to take action. Don’t be afraid to make drastic changes—a breakup, a location change, a job switch—on impulse. Flickers of clarity can come and go at random. It’s important to seize them when they strike.
To learn about family counseling addiction recovery services, call Blueprints for Recovery today and begin to heal yourself and your life. (888) 744-9969