One of the most pressing problems that addicts face are the unhealthy, codependent relationships they are entangled in. Footprints Behavioral Health recognizes the importance for addicts to break free of codependent relationships, which is why an entire segment in the recovery program is dedicated to overcoming them. It is though the recovery process at this facility that the addict can begin to recognize how toxic certain relationships are and how they often keep the addict stuck in an endless cycle of using and abusing drugs and alcohol.
There is not one person who is to blame for a codependent relationship. In a healthy relationship, two relatively strong and confident people with individual moral standards develop a healthy relationship with one another based on respect, boundaries, and standards. Though there is a loving partnership between the couple, there is not a circumstance where one person desperately needs the other in order to feel secure. Any type of relationship that depends on another person for some type of security is considered codependent.
Alcoholics and addicts tend to get involved in codependent relationships. For example, one addict may stay with another addict in order to feel justified in the addiction itself. Both addicts use together, are emotionally unstable together, and maybe even depend on one another during brief moments of sobriety.
Mental Health for America describes a co-dependent relationship amongst addicts as follows; “co-dependents have low self esteem and look outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to be “themselves.” Some try to feel better though alcohol, drugs or nicotine.” More often, a co-dependent relationship arises when one addict is with another non-addict. The non-addict will then attempt to take care of the addict in an unhealthy, paternalistic manner; all the while letting their own personal needs be neglected.
Mental Health for America goes on to describe the latter couple as, “having good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. Caretakers often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need.” In other words, the non-addict actually gets a benefit from being the caretaker of the addict; they feel a sense of importance and significance. They get their unmet needs through taking care of another person and becoming their “parent” so to speak. This type of destructive relationship is no healthier than two addicts trying to take care of each other.
Finally, there are codependent families, which present a whole host of other problems for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Sometimes, mothers and fathers will allow their addict child to borrow money, live at their house while using, or even turn a blind eye when he or she sells drugs on the premises. These codependent parents often go out and buy alcohol and drugs for their child because they feel like it is the only way to control the situation. The largest cause for this type of behavior is fear.
Parents or caretakers do not wish to harm their child, but are afraid that if they kick the addict out of the house or cut them off from money, they will lose their child forever. The motives of the caretakers are benign, but the outcomes are terribly destructive for both the addict and the caretaker.
Codependency is often rooted in someone’s childhood, where one person was expected to take care of someone else or lie for a spouse in order to keep the family together. A great deal of shame is brought on to the family if any type of secret is let out. As a result, children of these types of families end up becoming codependents in one way or another and developing their own unhealthy patterns of relationships. Furthermore, alcohol and drugs are used to hide the shame and stress that the childhood trauma brought upon them.
It is vital for new addicts and alcoholics who are getting sober to avoid jumping into a new relationship right away. There are many aspects of the co-dependent personality that have roots much farther than a problem with drugs an alcohol. It is why the general rule of thumb for those in a recovery program is to wait a full year before dating someone else. In order to have a successful, healthy relationship with another person, the addict must be able to fully take care of him or herself emotionally, physically, and financially.
A significant other should bring their own emotional, physical and financial health to the relationship so the two can be independent, loving, but non-dependent people. This takes time and work, and may even require the help of a therapist. The good news is that programs such as the ones at Footprints Behavioral Health help the addict address the root causes of their codependent behavior so they can go on to live happy, independent lives with or without a partner. This will help the addict find another healthy, independent person to develop a relationship or friendship with. The program at Footprints will also teach addicts how to handle toxic family relationships that thrive on codependency. There will be a variety of specific coping tools at the addict’s disposal so they can get through the initial period of being uncomfortably sober alone; without someone else taking care of him or her.
Are you interested in learning how codependent relationships are hurting your recovery process? Would you like to learn valuable skills in order to develop healthy relationships based on love, trust, and mutual respect? Contact Linda Rose at Footprints Behavioral Health by calling 949-558-4723 today.