FAMILY SERIES -
Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog from 24th April, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:
I decided as part of my bloging series, "Recovery in Addiction Series", to include a few blogs on family. It is an undisputed fact that family are directly effected by addiction and in most cases it is the family that eventually help to motivate change in an addict or atleast do their utmost to do so. Families also suffer immense hardship through addiction and it does leave emotional scars in everyone. No one escapes the impact and effects of addiction.
"Codependency is characterized by sacrificing one’s personal needs in order to try to meet the needs of others and is associated with passivity and feelings of shame, low self-worth, or insecurity. The term codependency was originally coined to describe a person’s dependence on the addictive behaviors of a partner or family member, usually with regards to drugs and alcohol. Today it is more broadly associated with the behaviors of someone whose actions and thoughts revolve around another person or thing."
Co-dependency occurs in addictive families as everyones self esteem, belief, self care, confidence is non existance due to the effect of addiction. The addict is addicted to their drink/drugs and the codependent person is addicted to the addict. When working with co-dependant people It does appear that "son's marry their mothers and daughter's marry there fathers". I look at my own family and this appears to be true. Now in Ireland it is said that addiction effects 1 in 3 families, so due to this co-dependency is rampant here.
The jury is still out whether addiction is genetic, but I do feel that it is a more learned behavioural aspect, especially co-dependency. If you are brought up in an alcoholic home, there is a good chance you will become codependent. If you marry an alcoholic this codependency will continue and your children will also learn to become codependent, and on and on.
Now you don't have to come from a home with addiction to be codependent as any family dysfunction or abuse over a long period of time will cause codependency.
A Codependent person will mirror the addict and will display many of the character defects, irrational thoughts and feelings that are evident in addiction. In addiction and due to the chaos of addiction the codependent person can suffer more than the addict, as they end up being caught up in the whole insanity and are left to pick up the pieces. My previous blog on enabling, is a prome example of co-dependency.
Co-dependency is very complex and no two cases of co-dependency are necesarily the same as everyone's own experience is unique.
What to do now?
If the addicted person is still using/ drinking, then you will have to detach physically, with Love.
It is vital that you get help. Do not think for once that when recovery from addiction occurs in the home, that co-dependency will suddenly end. It won't. Most co-dependent people have been suffering from co-dependency for years even from child hood. It is well ingrained and your Core Belief. You will need to attend Al-Anon, counselling or CBT to help you undo the past and start afresh. It won't be easy and will take time, but it will be worth it. In the meantime you must always remember that your thoughts are yours alone, your feelings are yours alone, irrespective of how anyone else is. If you are happy and everyone else in the home are grumpy, you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't fix it. Let them go to be how they want to be and you focus on yourself (For a change)