Is there a co-dependent in the house?

At some point in our lives, most can agree in conversation that nothing happens by accident, that there is a purpose for everything in life.  When trauma strikes the person who has not yet developed or has not been taught helpful coping skills, addiction can take over their personality.  Anything that alters this person’s mood, feelings, emotions is subject to abuse.  Each person finds what works best for them; and once they do, any hope of developing the proper coping mechanism is lost.

People with an addictive personality will stop at nothing to achieve and maintain the high that keeps them from experiencing life in its natural state.  This is where the root of addiction lives, the refusal to accept life on life’s terms, arguing with what is so, fighting to be right, crashing into the brick wall over and over again.  Sometimes there is a brief moment where there appears to be surrender.  The addict appears broken, ready, and willing to give up.  They seem willing to face the fact that the high that once kept them from having to feel is no longer working.  Then a little time goes by, the apologies come, the endless talk of “I will never do _______ again” starts,  everyone thinks things are “looking up,” and then WHAM, they find themselves getting high again.

This can be very frustrating for the loved ones in the addict’s life.  They cannot understand what happened, “You said you weren’t going to drink anymore, you stopped for a whole week and talked about how committed you were.  What happened? Why???”   The co-dependent’s hopes and expectations get crushed over and over again by the disease of addiction.  Now they begin to be at odds with life themselves.  The whole family is under the control of addiction; life has become completely reactionary for everyone involved.

What the family and friends are not aware of is that inside the addictive person’s brain is the obsession to use.  The addict is thinking about getting high all the time, even when they have “quit.”  This thinking can come in the form of glamorizing their past usage, things that may have been exciting, dangerous, or peaceful.  We tell “war stories” of our using, many times embellishing the fun while rarely speaking of the pain or destruction that has resulted.  It is this obsession to use that must be dealt with, and that is what recovery is all about.

The process of recovery must first start with the cessation of all mood- and mind-altering chemicals. This is why many treatment facilities recommend a 28-day in-patient treatment program.  The time away, in a safe environment, allows for many opportunities to dig into the root of the problem.  Even in a person with the most sincere desire to stop using, doing so on their own is virtually impossible.  The disease voice in our head is so much louder than the voice of reason, unless we have a program in place to counter it.

Being housed with other addicts in early recovery gives us the opportunity to face the reality that life truly had become unmanageable.  We can easily see where our abuse has brought us.  Most, if not all, people hit recovery facing financial ruin, relationship loss, unemployment, or possibly severe legal issues.  It is rare, indeed, for the person who has none of the above issues to find themselves in treatment.  This is why it is so important for friends and family to allow alcoholic or drug addict to suffer the consequences of their using.  How is a person ever going to “hit bottom” when there is always a safety net in place for them when they fall?

The process of recovery for the co-dependent must start with the refusal to accept further abuse.  This is delivered in a beautifully clear way in Conversations with God.

“As a practical matter—again leaving esoterics aside—if you look to what is best for you in these situations where you are being abused, at the very least what you will do is stop the abuse.  And that will be good for both you and your abuser, for even an abuser is abused when his abuse is allowed to continue.”

We are not so different in the end, the addict and the co-dependent.  We are each disempowering the other from experiencing our life to the fullest.  We must all have faith that by doing right for our self, we are then doing what is best for everyone.  We can no longer afford to keep up the facade that everything is fine. We must expose the darkness so that the light can shine though.

This is part 1 in a series on co-dependency and recovery.  Next week we will look  into why it is our fault and what we can do about it.  Stay tuned!

(Kevin McCormack is a Conversations with God Life Coach, a Spiritual helper on www.changingchange.net, Addictions recovery advisor.  To connect with Kevin please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com)

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  • Laura Pringle

    Thanks so much for this article, and for taking time to help us to understand the mind of an addict, and the ones affected. Very helpful! I will definitely be looking forward to reading the other articles you post:)

  • Marko

    Laura is the voice of many who read this but don’t comment.

    The hardest thing for the compassionate person on the other end of the addiction process is not to enable them. “This is why it is so important for friends and family to allow alcoholic or drug addict to suffer the consequences of their using. How is a person ever going to “hit bottom” when there is always a safety net in place for them when they fall?”

    Powerful hard words to hear, but truthful. Especially hard if they may die in the process which I’m sure you will be addressing in the next article.

  • em claire

    Courageous and cogent, dearest Kevin! Thank you for using your life and wisdom and experiences in true Heart-service of others! LOVE, em 🙂

  • Sharon

    I have been in Al-Anon for about 6 months now. I find it to be a life line for me. Even though I have not found myself strong enough to leave a drug addict and a relationship that cannot give me the life I want, yet. It brings me peace to know that others love addicts and have the issues that I am facing. I have been aware for years that I am a co-dependent personality. Until I can change that, I will not find the white picket fence I’m looking for. Thank you for this article and the tie in with CWG. CWG has been a God send to me, literally. It makes so much sense. I was never able to believe in a God that would love me better than someone else. What good is conditional God? I will be reading with great interest.