Learning How to Overcome Codependency
It is difficult to overcome codependency but learning to do so can save the life of an addict or alcoholic, as well as the sanity of those around them.
Learning how to overcome codependency may seem easy when you’re on the outside looking in.
“Why don’t you just cut them off?”
“They’re clearly taking advantage of you. Can’t you just stop?”
“They will never get better if you keep doing what you’re doing.”
It almost sounds like the cries of those who plead with their substance dependent loved ones. You will undoubtedly hear the phrase “addiction is a family disease” once you spend enough time around the recovery community. The struggles of codependent family members and friends of addicts and alcoholics show this is true.
It is a daunting challenge to overcome codependency. It’s even more difficult to do if you don’t realize that you display codependent behaviors. After all, how can you fix something when you don’t even realize that a problem exists?
Continue reading to learn more about codependency, its influence on your substance dependent loved one, and how to overcome codependency. It may not be an easy task but it is possible to learn a life free from codependent behaviors.
What is Codependency?
If you don’t know what it is, how are you supposed to overcome codependency?
The term codependency initially came about in reference to the spouses of addicts or alcoholics. Use of the term became widespread in recent years, though, and its definition widened to include a broader spectrum of people.
Codependency is not an official mental health diagnosis categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This makes it difficult to specifically pinpoint a single definition of codependency. Instead, psychologists and counselors have a general agreement upon what counts as codependent behavior.
Ultimately, codependency is defined by the actions of someone who enables the behaviors of an addict or alcoholic or someone with poor mental health. It also includes someone who enables an immature, irresponsible, or under-achieving loved one.
These enabling patterns include actions like:
- Providing a place to live
- Offering money
- Covering up or making excuses for the person
- Cleaning up after the person
- Avoiding situations that could create conflict or encourage an altercation
While it isn’t wrong to offer help and support to a struggling loved one, people who struggle with codependency take it too far. Usually their actions enable the person to keep behaving the way they are with little to no repercussions. Due in part to their codependent loved one, the person in question may never overcome their difficulties.
In order to overcome codependency, you must draw a line and discontinue supporting your loved one directly. This may seem impossible to do, though, and it is truly impossible if you don’t even realize that you’re doing it.
How Do You Know If You Are Codependent?
When you are in the thick of a codependent relationship, it is challenging to see it in this light. Things that may seem absurd to an outsider looking in, such as continuing to offer money when the person spends it on drugs, become normal to a codependent. Often they explain their behavior as trying to “help” or “offer support” to their loved one. When you aren’t willing to admit you might fit this category, it is difficult to overcome codependency.
There are many signs that you display codependent behavior. To make the signs of codependency slightly more relatable, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you made incredible sacrifices of money, time, or energy to help your loved one or to keep them from doing certain things?
- Do you have a hard time saying “no” or sticking to your word once you have said “no” to your loved one?
- Have you made excuses or covered up for your loved one’s drinking, using, absences, or other actions that are a direct result of their unhealthy behaviors?
- Are you constantly worried about what your loved one thinks of you?
- Does it feel like you will never be able to actually help them or escape the relationship?
- Do you avoid doing or saying things in order to avoid confrontation or arguments?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions (or even more of them), you likely display codependent behaviors. It may seem like your gifts, excuses, and agreeableness help keep your loved one happy for some period of time. More often than not, though, the fallout comes and you are left trying to build everything back up.
How to Overcome Codependency
Do you find yourself repeatedly carrying out any of the actions listed above? For example, have you sent your child to rehab not just once, but maybe twice, three times, or even more? Do you make excuses for why your spouse wasn’t able to make it to family events, when they were really too drunk or hungover to attend? Have you justified to yourself or your friends why your partner refuses to contribute around the house while they go off and do their own thing?
While it might feel like your actions help them, they only enable your loved one to keep doing what they’re doing. If you continue doing what you’re doing, they might not ever stop. If you want to truly help your loved one, you must first help yourself and learn how to overcome codependency.
The best way to overcome codependency is to find your own treatment method. Therapy or counseling can work wonders in the life of a codependent individual. Codependents often feel depressed, unworthy, unloveable, and other negative emotions based on false beliefs. You need to address how you feel about yourself in order to learn to stand up to your loved one.
A therapist or counselor can help you learn to establish clear expectations and set solid boundaries. Not only will you set boundaries, though, you will also learn how to stick to them. It may also be helpful to send your loved one to their own treatment program, such as the one offered at Hawaii Island Recovery. While they learn to manage their difficulties, you can learn to manage your own.
Finding Help For Your Loved One
Hawaii Island Recovery offers an addiction treatment program to help those with substance dependence problems. If the two of you work on your challenges separately, you can learn to work together to support one another. You can put a stop to the exhausting one-sided relationships you’ve likely found yourself in your whole life.
Decide for yourself that you are a priority, that you deserve the same love and respect you show. By standing up for yourself, you might help your loved one more than you could even imagine.
Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at 877-721-3556 to learn about the programs offered at our facility.