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Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

To learn more about why you should seek counseling for codependency, you might want to get a better understanding of the definition of codependency, learn about some signs and symptoms of being in a codependent relationship, and get insights into ways that you can seek counseling for codependency.

What is Codependency?

In codependent relationship both partners become dependent on the other in different ways. One partner takes on the role of being completely responsible for the actions and behavior of the other, while the irresponsible partner continues to act in self-destructive ways. The addict needs the codependent partner to take care of him, and the codependent partner needs the addict in order to give their life meaning and purpose.

Unfortunately, codependency is not a viable relationship model for either person involved. For example, a mother who has a child as an addict attempts to help fix her child’s problems. She may pay some of her bills, make excuses for her to teachers or employers, and spend countless hours, time, and energy to get her child to seek help.

The child, on the other hand, does not have to face the consequences of her addiction and so continues to seek out and abuse her substance of choice. When her mother doesn’t do exactly what she wants, the addict may act rebellious, show resentment to her mother, and further push her mother away.

Since the relationship does not work for either party, it is unhealthy for everyone to participate in it. However, for many parents, the idea of not “helping” their child during this time is contrary to everything they think about parenting. It is their job to love, nurture, protect, and provide for their child. How, at the time of their child’s greatest need, can they abandon him or her? It is difficult to accept that the emotion, time, and money you are spending on a loved one is actually not helping to solve his problem. Unfortunately, many parents learn the hard way that their efforts are not working.

Not being held accountable for the consequences associated with drug use is one of the primary reasons addicts don’t reach out for the help that they need. Therefore, when parents hinder this accountability, they are actually causing more harm for their addicted child.

Another negative side effect of codependency is that when all of your actions fail (which they will), you can become frustrated and bitter with the addict. Your addicted child, partner, or loved one, on the other hand, is still not taking responsibility and your interactions become unhealthy for both of you.

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency

While codependent relationships form in unique ways for each individual, there are some key factors you can watch out for. If you find yourself compulsively focused on a loved one’s dysfunctional behavior to the detriment of your own emotional or physical health and well being, you may be in a codependent relationship.

Codependent individuals often have underlying feelings of low self-worth and need to please or help others in order to give their lives worth and meaning. They also are often repeating patterns of behavior they learned in childhood, so the children of addicts are often at risk of recreating these dysfunctional relationships in their adult lives. In fact, codependency is so common for people in relationships with addicts, that the 12-Step group Al-Anon was created to serve this population.

People who are codependent often stop living their own lives because they are so focused on trying to get other people to see and do things in their way. Because they are so focused on others, codependent people are not effective in setting boundaries that allow the other person to take responsibility for his behaviors. Because of this lack of boundary, codependent people often find that they feel obligated to react to whatever is thrown at them.

People in codependent relationships often feel trapped and lack the assertiveness to meet their own needs. While you may think that having no boundaries enables you to be close and intimate, it often gets in the way of honest, intimate relationships and helps people actually avoid closeness.

Seek Counseling for Codependency

Now that you have a better understanding of the harmful nature of codependency for everyone involved, you may be more receptive to seeking counseling. In her article “Ending Codependency in Relationships: Find And Live Who You Really Are,” Anna Puchalski suggests that you get counseling to achieve the following goals[1]:

  • Create a relationship with yourself
  • Establish boundaries
  • Listen to and trust your own feelings and intuition
  • Honor your own needs and intentions
  • Create a positive space
  • Commit to lifting your self-esteem and confidence

Many quality addiction treatment programs include family counseling as part of the services they offer to help families rebuild into a positive and supportive group for all members. In addition, aftercare programs also focus on establishing appropriate relationships that draw healthy boundaries. Many people find support from groups; there is even a support group for codependency. Finally, many counselors specialize in family situations involving addiction and codependency. A major benefit of seeking counseling for codependency is that you can learn healthy ways to live a rewarding life with your loved ones while supporting their recovery.

Get Help to Learn More About Counseling for Codependency

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