Addiction can often cause a ripple effect, hurting one’s loved ones. This is especially the case in co-dependent relationships, such as between romantic partners and between parents and children. When a parent, child, or partner struggles with substance abuse, the nature of the co-dependent relationship can make it difficult for both parties to seek help.
Recently, Oxford Treatment Center clinical therapist Claire Orr talked about the ways co-dependency can prevent an individual seeking help for substance abuse. She also discussed ways to overcome co-dependency and live a fruitful life in recovery.
Co-Dependency Vs. Support
To start, it’s worth defining co-dependency so you can recognize it. In brief, Orr defines co-dependency as “one person catering almost exclusively to the extreme emotional and physical needs of the person suffering from substance abuse.” When it comes to addiction, a spouse may lend their significant other money for alcohol or drugs, or a parent may repeatedly try and shield their child from the consequences of their substance abuse. Not only does this prevent healing from taking place, it also can cause undue stress on the co-dependent. Many people trapped in a co-dependent relationship will find themselves making excuses for their loved one’s behavior.
One of the main justifications that an enabler in a co-dependent relationship will give is that they believe they are providing their loved one with support. The line between enabling and understanding is a fine one. In general, when you find yourself prioritizing the needs of another over the needs of yourself, that may be a sign that you’ve gone beyond offering your loved one compassionate support and started enabling their addiction.
Moving Past Co-Dependency and Addiction
Orr also offered several ways to which an individual can begin to break free of their co-dependent relationship. These tactics can often start with small changes. Instead of giving a loved one money or letting them borrow your car, instead offer to go shopping with them or offer to drive them to their destination. Oftentimes your addicted loved one will resist, responding with anger or manipulative tactics. It’s important to not relent in order to break the cycle of enabling.
It’s also important, when your loved one consents to receiving treatment, to incorporate healing for yourself. Family therapy is a way to help the family heal as a group from the damages of addiction. Oxford Treatment Center, in addition to its medically informed addiction treatment, also offers family therapy sessions. Don’t wait to find relief from addiction for your family. A better life is possible.