After your loved one has committed to attending treatment, the work is still not done. Not only must the individual with the addiction or problem behavior begin to work on themselves and their mental health, but the family must begin to grow,change and embrace healing as a whole. Codependency is truly the number one killer of addicts and alcoholics.
Psychology Today defines codependency as, “a term used to describe a relationship in which, by being caring, highly-functional, and helpful, one is said to support, perpetuate, or enable a loved one’s irresponsible or destructive behavior.” In families, it often looks like a parent, guardian, friend of a member of the addict’s support system continually providing “help” or assistance to the individual that enables them to stay in active addiction.
It is devastating to watch someone you love suffer, lose money, become sick, and oftentimes even homeless due to substance abuse and other destructive behaviors. Family members will want to provide a short-term solution to aid the individual in their pain. While it may provide temporary relief, the reality is that not setting boundaries and providing intervention to your loved ones to help them get treatment will keep them sick and continues to keep them at a high chance of accidental overdose.
Many family members fail to realize that taking care of and doing things for a sick individual that they cannot do things for themselves, while addiction; is extremely selfish. Codependency is not an act of love. It is a desperate attempt to make your own self feel better and in control of a person and situation that is beyond control. A codependent person gets their own self-worth, satisfaction, and comfort by providing for others, even when sacrificing their own needs or those of the greater family system. Yet, families and loved ones must realize that striving for their own feelings of comfort could leave them at-risk addicts for dead.
It is that serious. Addiction is not a choice, it is an illness. The seed to recovery must be planted first by those who care about the individual most. That is the solution, that is the healing. Although it will be difficult and painful and look like unclear territory; stopping enabling behavior is what will change the outcome for your loved one. Battling codependency within the family unit will not only help get your loved one into treatment but will help keep them in that treatment program and assist them in staying accountable for long-term recovery afterward. Addiction does not happen in isolation. It is the buildup of many experiences, messages, and choices made both by the addicted person and for the addicted person. In order to achieve long-term healing and completely eliminate the risk of overdose and death by addiction, we must first eliminate the presence of codependent relationships and work to heal the entire family of the affected individual.
Working with family members of addicted individuals is something I have done for a long time. The work begins, from the moment we first connect. The intention is never to accuse, blame, shame or dis-credit. The only purpose I have as an interventionist is to help save the life of the one you love while empowering growth and healing in all spaces where it’s needed.
I provide long-term recovery support to families and individuals for up to 3 years after they have left treatment. I want to arm every part of the support system with the facts and tools they need to keep the recovering addict on the right path.