Codependent relationships are common in addiction. Addicts
learn to lose their sense of independence as they live a life of chaos, leaving
others to pick up the pieces as they focus on feeding their addiction. Bills
don’t get paid, children left at the school gates, meals not prepared and money
used solely to fund the addiction.
Co-dependency normalises addiction
Addicts often seek out other addicts who they become codependent on to normalise their behaviour and share their chaotic lifestyle with. Equally, the addicts loved ones sustain another level of codependency taking responsibility for many of the neglected things which the person with an addiction is either unwilling or unable to do.
Personal Responsibility begins the pathway to recovery
Personal responsibility in addiction is essential to allow the addict to develop into full blown recovery. Addicts come from all walks of life, from high functioning and often very privileged members of society, through to the least economically and social advantaged. Addicts become totally consumed by their addiction and lose confidence in their wider coping strategies and instead adopt instant gratification behaviours which ignore the consequences. This self defeating behaviour, common with all addicts, leaves the addict feeling incapable and worthless.
How to help an addict?
It is essential that any addict is taught self reliance and incremental independence so that they can be reminded of their self beyond the addict. At the height of addiction, addicts lose sight of who they really are and also of their skills set.
In order to address this and support the addict towards life long recovery, a key piece of support will be taking personal responsibility of more and more aspects of their lives.
By taking more and more personal responsibility of their lives, the addict will become reminded of their broader skill set, of what other things they are capable of and ultimately that addiction does not define them; instead seeing it as just something that they currently do to manage their mental health.
To support an addict to take personal responsibility,
they need to be encouraged to adopt a structure in their lives which allows
them to keep on top of small tasks. In the chaos of addiction, they may need to
support just to stay safe, make appointments or just even to eat. Where
possible do not take on simple tasks for someone in addiction, just be with
them to make sure it gets done.
At this point, there is a balance to be struck between what realistically they can achieve and what realistically they will want to solve. Over time, with support they will want to do more and more for themselves. With support they will get there, so stay resilient.
Fully recovered from addiction
By encouraging the addict to take personal responsibility, addiction recovery will become more and more evident, as they will be more responsible for all aspects of their lives. The scope of personal responsibility can act as a barometer for the ongoing recovery of an individual, as, over time, they take full charge of their day to day living and become less vulnerable to being codependent and fully independent again. As this incrementally occurs they will grow little by little in self esteem and simultaneously grow the resources to maintain their recovery.
Are you codependent? Take the codependency quiz.
Not sure if you are maintaining your addiction through your relationship with others. Take the quiz to find out if you are independent or using those relationships to keep yourself secure within your addiction. Take the test.