Addiction is a Family Disease
- A key component of Addiction Recovery is Family Recovery;
- Addiction recovery must meet your needs and those of your loved ones caught in the turmoil of your substance use;
- Addictions leave families emotionally depleted and often threatened by financial ruin;
- Mending broken relationships and healing emotional pain helps you and your loved ones restore harmony and trust to your lives;
- Treatment of unhealthy relationships and dysfunctional family dynamics need to include addiction education and mental health services for your family;
- Understanding how and learning to be in relationships and cope with family, specific living environment and social circles is incorporated into your treatment plan;
- Evaluation and treatment of emotional, psychiatric and physical health problems within families as related to addiction;
- Psycho education of the addictive process and specific addictions.
There is a difference between helping and enabling. You are enabling when you do something for someone with an addiction that they could and should do for themselves.
When you help someone to avoid the consequences of their actions, you are denying them the opportunity to learn that their behavior is inappropriate.
If you do something for someone who is unable to do it for themselves, you are helping. If they could and should do it for themselves, you are making them dependent on you
- Codependency occurs when another individual, perhaps the addict’s spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or co-worker, is controlled by the addict’s addictive behavior.
- Codependents become codependent because they have learned to believe that love, acceptance, security, and approval are contingent upon taking care of the alcoholic or addict in the way they wish.
- In their decision making process, codependents allow the addict to define reality.
- Unfortunately, this excessively care giving behavior tends to foster even more dependency on the part of the addict.
- Many times codependents exhibit enabling behavior by either directly or indirectly encouraging you to continue drinking or doing drugs.
- Some codependents are adult children of alcoholics or addicts and their codependent behavior is the result of growing up in the environment of addiction.
Co-Addiction is not to be confused with Co-Dependency
The Need to Care for the Caregiver
- We are using the term “co-addict” to refer to anyone whose life has become unmanageable as a result of living in a committed relationship with an addicted person.
- The term “co-addiction” is sometimes used to refer only to the spouse of an addict and other terms are used to refer to other family members.
- Co-addiction is a definable syndrome that is chronic and follows a predictable progression. When a person in a committed relationship with an addicted person attempts to control drinking, drug use, or addictive behavior (over which they are powerless), they lose control over their own behavior (over which they can have power) and their lives become unmanageable.
- The person suffering from co-addiction develops physical, psychological, and social symptoms as a result of attempting to adapt to and compensate for the debilitating effects of the stress of living with someone who is addicted.
- As the co-addiction progresses, the stress-related symptoms become habitual. The symptoms also become self-reinforcing; that is, the presence of one symptom of co-addiction will automatically trigger other co-addiction symptoms.
- The co-addiction eventually becomes independent of the addiction that originally caused it. The symptoms of co-addiction will continue even if the addicted person in the family becomes sober or joins AA/NA, or the co-addict ends the relationship.
As family members become involved in recovery efforts and relapse prevention planning, a strong focus need to be placed upon co-addiction and its role in the family relapse process. Family members are helped to recognize their own co-addiction and become actively involved in their own treatment.
Addiction is a family disease that affects all family members, requiring everyone to get involved in treatment.
- The addict needs treatment for addiction.
- Other family members need treatment for co-addiction.