Don’t Call Me Names: You’re Codependent, You’re An Enabler, You’re The Weak Link.
The truth is Codependency is different than loving, caring, helping and being supportive.
A family that is dealing with an active addict is in crisis, many times dealing with life and death situations. There are no hard and fast rules to tell us exactly how to respond in each situation. Right now, the opioid epidemic has many families in a panic, responding to one emergency after another. Learning the difference between helping and responding in a healthy way instead of unhealthy codependence is crucial.
In an attempt to enable our addict to get better we can in fact enable them to get sicker, unable to manage their lives in any capacity. Our love turns into an uncontrollable desire to help and eventually manifests itself as an obsession that evolves into an unmanageable life, where we can’t identify our own needs or manage our own physical and mental health. Eventually a dependency system has been set up that disables both the addict and the family member. The addict now has to lie and manipulate to survive their own addiction, and also to keep us in the caretaking, rescuing position. This vicious cycle is impossible to break without help for the addict and the family.
Codependency is not exclusive for relationships with an addict, it can affect many relationships that we have, causing us emotional pain, exhaustion and frustration. Codependency is not an all or nothing concept, there may be times when your efforts did in fact save a loved one’s life. You may have a few codependent tendencies, or you may have many that impact your life dramatically causing significant problems. Learn what you can about codependency and realize that you are not alone. Don’t get defensive or angry if people are “calling you names”. Seek help, there are many therapists that can help you understand how your love for another can be unhealthy for both of you and there are many workshops and programs that provide insight and a new way of living that doesn’t cut our family out of our lives, in fact it will help you be closer in a healthy way.
Taking care of ourselves is not a selfish thing, it’s actually the best gift we can give our loved ones. When dealing with alcoholism or drug addiction, we cannot afford to be selfish and be the superhero. We will fail, we will become ill, but we are also contributing to the disease placing our addict at more risk. Relying on our family and friends to support us and give us good advice is not helpful, they cannot be objective and are not professionals. Do your research to get help for your addict and for yourself. Be honest, open minded and willing to explore a healthier way of showing your love. Feel free to give us a call at Alina Lodge if you are looking for help for your loved ones or if you are looking for a weekend workshop or a longer-term program for yourself.
Donna Pittala, MA, LCADC, CODS, CCS Director of Family Services Alina Lodge 800.575.6343
We treat all types of chemical dependency such as alcoholism and drug addictions including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, as well as prescription drug addiction. If you or a loved one struggles to stay sober, contact us today.