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Co-Dependency

When someone practices co-dependent behavior, that person may try to control another person or change that person’s addictive behaviors. This just doesn’t work for the addict or the family member. The entire family is really the patient in rehab, and there is hope of recovery for each person.

We actually see what has been labeled “co-dependent” behaviors as disordered responses to an addict’s behavior. You may have attempted to control a situation, an outcome, or the addict’s drinking in order to make things better. Trying to control another’s behavior is usually counterproductive, because we can’t control anything but our own responses. The family system is always reeling as it tries to be ready for any eventuality. Being a “caretaker” is exhausting.

In this way, the family is the patient, and both the family members and the addicted person need treatment. A family in addiction is dysfunctional. In recovery, the transition to change can be painful and confusing which is why 12-Step support programs such as Al-Anon and Alateen are lifelines.

The Five-Day Family Program treats the family while the patient receives rehab for addiction.
In an intense, no-cost educational experience, participants learn the dynamics of families in addiction, the scientific basis of this neurobiological disease and the tools for family recovery.

Here are some questions you might try asking yourself:

  • Do you feel that your loved one’s behavior reflects on you and the family?
  • Do you cover for your loved one or make excuses when the person is drunk, high or hung over?
  • Do you feel you can control or influence your family member’s substance abuse?
  • Do you feel you have no options or can make no choices for your own life?
  • Do you feel like a victim?
  • Do you always believe things will get better  (without getting treatment)?
  • Do you often feel angry?
  • Do you have trouble establishing trust?
  • Do you feel hopeless much of the time?

Family members of active addicts suffer physically, emotionally and spiritually.
There are many mental and physical risks to family members in an addicted family system. These include:

  • Chronic stress and its physical consequences such as stroke, high blood pressure and other heart problems
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Susceptibility to misuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fatigue
  • Susceptibility to accident

Family recovery from addiction is possible. The active addict has a better chance of long-lasting recovery if the family is involved in treatment. Support is important, and so are new family patterns of reacting and acting.

12-Step recovery practice and support is available to you and can renew your life.

Giving up control is not easy to do when your life has been in a survival mode. Al-Anon, Alateen, ACOA and AA will help you find a way to let go of control and discover a way to live authentically.