Co-dependency can affect addicts and their families alike. It is characterised by sacrificing one’s personal needs in order to try and meet the need of another. It can have devastating consequences to the sufferer and presents in many different forms. It is important to realise that the root of co-dependency is within the individual and not their individual circumstances and surroundings. This is contrary to the co-dependents beliefs; they believe that they happy and everything would be okay if only everyone around them would behave in the way that they want them to. Their co-dependency is often aimed at one particular individual; they receive the concentrated efforts of the co-dependent. Invariably, it tends to be the co-dependent that suffers, but the person who is the object of their control methods can also suffer.
Co-dependency often manifests in childhood, as a learned behaviour, such as caring for an alcoholic parent or their own siblings due to their parent’s shortfalls. Sometimes they are subjected to abuse, sexually or physically; from an early and impressionable age, they are learning that putting someone else’s needs before their own is normal.
In addiction there is a common form of co-dependency, the addict and the co-dependent. Addiction is a chronic illness that not only affects the sufferer in every way imaginable, but it also affects those that love and care for them. Those that are very close to the addict can begin to exhibit similar characteristics and behaviours to those presented in the addict. The long-term effects of addiction and co-dependency have a ripple effect. Even once the addiction has been arrested the co-dependent traits can continue. This is both dangerous and counterproductive for the addict and the co-dependent alike.
Primrose Lodge recognise the devastating effects that addiction has on family members and partners, this is why we offer a Family Recovery Programme. In order for the family to move forward, along with their newly recovered loved one, it is important that all who have been affected learn how to recover too. Some may be so badly affected by co-dependency that they too require inpatient treatment. It is important not to underestimate how devastating co-dependency can be to an individual’s, physical, mental and spiritual well being.
Another common form of co-dependency is two addicts together. In addiction, isolated by family and friends, they become completely reliant on each other for love and support. The truth is they cannot even love and care for themselves in active addiction, let alone anyone else. It can become a vicious cycle of one getting clean and then relapsing because the other does not follow suit. Any individual who finds recovery only to return to a partner or live with a family member that is still drinking or using, is asking for trouble. For the relationship to stand any chance of surviving and becoming healthy, both individuals must find recovery, for themselves…not for each other.
Co-dependency often manifests in the loved ones of those in active addiction. At Primrose Lodge we meet many a father, mother, husband, wife, son and daughter who have co-dependently supported their loved one. Believing their actions were for the best, they have enabled the addict to carry on in their addiction. An individual in active addiction creates a sickness around them as they lie, manipulate, steal and cheat in order to get what they want and need. Some family members will be supportive from a distance, realising that anything they say or do is likely to have little impact on the addict. They realise that the addict has to want to stop for themselves and that no amount of anger, love, begging, bribery, emotional appeal, mollycoddling, colluding or financial support will change that. The co-dependent however will exhibit most, or all of their addicted loved ones traits, believing that they can change the person through their own actions and words. They find themselves frequently angry, upset and anxious when their attempts to “save” the family member fail. They may also show traits of blaming themselves and feel overwhelmed by guilt, feeling that their own shortfalls in the relationship are what have caused the other to become an addict or alcoholic.
If you are wondering if you could possibly suffer from co-dependency, it is wise to get help promptly. Ask yourself the following questions:
Answering yes to one or more of these questions could well indicate that you have a problem with co-dependency. No one wants to admit they are a co-dependent; in today’s society we want to appear independent. There is no shame in suffering from co-dependency; it is a real mental health illness and with the correct treatment and support, a complete and permanent recovery is possible. You do not need to be controlled by others and can break free to find and learn to love yourself, regardless of external circumstances.
An individual who suffers from co-dependency, will often feel anxious and be vulnerable to bouts of depression. They may also turn to alcohol or drugs, or some other destructive behaviour to cover up and deflect from the pain they experience as a co-dependent. They are likely to suffer from low self worth and self esteem and are a slave to feelings of shame, guilt and not being good enough. If they are an addict this is a double-edged sword; their co-dependency can propel their addiction to a point where they no longer want to live. Co-dependency can often present as a co occurring illness alongside addiction. In this case, Primrose Lodge recommend a full inpatient programme to deal with both issues. Both illnesses need to be treated simultaneously for a full and permanent recovery to be possible.
For more information on Primrose Lodge inpatient co-dependency programme, please call and speak to us or chat to us LIVE!
At Primrose Lodge we understand how easy it is to become co-dependent on a loved one who has behavioural problems, a mood disorder or an addiction. We therefore offer a family programme to all inpatients close family members and partners. We do all we can to help our patients stay clean and sober on leaving the treatment environment to; this means that the family will need to be healed. Neglecting this vital link can lead to the patient relapsing and the whole damaging cycle starting again. For more information please look at our “Family Recovery Programme” section.
Co-dependency is a recognised mental health disorder; it can be successfully treated through Cognitive Behavioural therapy techniques, Counselling and Psychotherapy. Primrose Lodge are proficient in delivering these methods of therapeutic rehabilitation through our professional team of qualified Counsellors and therapists. We can show the individual how to overcome impulsive co-dependent behaviours and learn how to build loving and healthy relationships, firstly with themselves and then with others.