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Addiction and codependency is a viscous cycle and a vicious arrangement of two very different but very damaging illnesses.
Addiction as Merriam-Webster puts it: “A compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”
Co-dependency as Oxford puts it: “Codependent relationships are essentially a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity.”
The problem here is that these two illnesses often go hand in hand. We have always heard the truth that addiction is just as hard for the families of those addicted as it is for the addict himself or herself, and there is little else that shows us and proves to us that point more than when an addict has a family member or loved one who has developed a co-dependency issue with the addicted individual.
This phenomena right here is actually how a lot of addictions are able to continue and how they are not stopped or shut down almost immediately by the addict’s family members. One of the family members or loved ones, (usually a mother, a father, or a spouse), develops a kind of co-dependency issue with the addict, and this person will not do or allow any kind of serious action with the addict. An intervention? Oh no that would be too stressful for the addict. Cutting the addict off? Oh no that would be too stressful, how would he survive? Forcing the addict into rehab? Oh heavens no that would be too cruel. Demanding change from the addict? Absolutely not that would be too confrontational.
These are just some of the incorrect thought processes that go on in the mind of someone who has a co-dependency issue with an addict. Truthfully though, it does go a lot deeper than that.
Statistics on Families and Addiction
The problem with addiction, one of the main, key, fundamental problems with addiction, is that it affects far more than just one person. For every single addict in the nation, there are about four individuals who are seriously affected by a drug or alcohol addict who is close to him or her. When you include these individuals and the addicts themselves, that amounts to almost a third of the entire nation’s population. This is obviously the problem here and it has been for some time now when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction in the United States. For some statistics on it:
Among current underage drinkers in the United States of America, 28.7 percent paid for the alcohol the last time that they drank it, including the 7.8 percent who purchased the alcohol themselves and 20.5 percent who gave money to someone else to purchase it for them instead. In fact, among those who did not pay for the alcohol they last drank instead, 36.6 percent got it from an unrelated person of the age of 21 or older; 24.5 percent got it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member of some kind; and 16.4 percent got it from another person younger than the age of 21 years old.
A pretty vast majority of youths of the age of 12 to 17, (88.4 percent of them), in 2013 reported that their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana once or twice, which was a decline from 2012 (95.3 percent). Current marijuana use was much less prevalent among youths who perceived strong parental disapproval for trying marijuana once or twice than for those who did not (4.1 vs. 29.3 percent, respectively), which means that parents need to express their disapproval if they want their kids to not use these drugs.
Drug and alcohol addiction has begun to affect the lives of the children of the United States far more than it ever did before. Sadly enough, these issues have made pretty serious effects all across the nation and for some time now, but this past year brought to light the no less than ten million Americans who were addicted to drugs or alcohol and who had a young child under their care. This is particularly concerning because each and every time someone raises a kid while also abusing substances, he or she increases the risk of that kid becoming addicted later on by over four-hundred percent.
How to Resolve Co-Dependency
Co-dependency begins and ends with the family member or loved one who is co-dependent, not with the addict. Whatever happens to the addict for better or for worse, the co-dependency issue will continue to go on basically endlessly unless fast action is taken on the part of the other family members of the addict and the co-dependent person. Here are some ways to say no to co-dependency:
Engage in Al-Anon. Al-Anon is the authority for helping the family members and loved ones of those addicted to drugs and alcohol. The issue of the suffering that family members and loved ones go through is severely underrated and under reported in this nation. However, Al-Anon gets it, and this group has been working to, “help the help” so to speak, or to, “support the supporters”, and to, “be a family to the family”. Al-Anon groups exist to deliver key counseling and group therapy sessions to the family members of addicts who are really suffering at the hands of the addicted loved one or family member, and they exist especially for family members or loved ones who have developed co-dependency issues.
Educate oneself. It is important for a co-dependent to really get what they are doing to an addict when they are being co-dependent on them. Co-dependency promotes enablement of the very worst kind, and a co-dependent family member or loved one is actually an addict’s worst nightmare when it comes to making an effort at getting recovered.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never push an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never cut off an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never kick an addict out of their home.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never say no to an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never intervene on an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never urge an addict to go to rehab.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never do anything that upsets an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never force an addict into rehab.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never take an addict’s kids away.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never deny money or food to an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never threaten an addict.
• A co-dependent family member, friend, or loved one will never be confrontational with an addict.
The list goes on and on almost indefinitely. The idea is that a co-dependent person must see what he or she is really doing to an addict. He or she thinks that they are helping, but they are really hindering, and they are hindering in the very worst of ways.
With proper counseling and guidance, plus a little education, co-dependency can be cured and gotten rid of once and for all. This really must be done too, sooner rather than later also. It is a seriously dangerous position to be in, for both the addict and for the co-dependent family member or loved one.