Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Who’s protecting you – from you? (Recovering from addiction and codependency.)
It’s not news that addicts are dying in their chase to get high. Nor is it surprising they do horrible things to feed their habit. Lying, stealing and hurting people become an everyday occurrence, in which the addicted person grows desensitized to. But there’s no one they hurt more, than themselves. It’s hard to understand this illness because the perpetrator is also the victim. Looking at addiction through rational eyes, won’t help either. Addiction is not rational. It’s an illogical, compulsive, and reactive illness. It’s the only disease that tells you, you don’t have it. Trying to make sense of this illness, or get the addict to see it through your eyes, will only leave you feeling helpless, frustrated and crazy. To complicate matters further, by the time the family feels concerned about their loved ones usage, the addicted person’s brain has already been hijacked by their disease.
Addiction is a progressive illness. It doesn’t start with injecting heroin in your arm. It starts way before that. Some say the first time an addict uses, they can get addicted. Non-addicts use and get high too. They may drink and drive, or wake up sick or hung-over. They’ll feel ashamed of their behavior while under the influence. Non-addicts learn from their experience with alcohol and/or drugs and proceed cautiously around them.
Addicts on the other hand, get high and then build a lifestyle around it. There is no caution. They go pedal to the metal all out! Addicts become addicted to the way they feel while under the influence. This attraction is so strong, they will give up their family and friends for it. Each time an addict makes a poor choice, they minimize it by justifying. Justification becomes habitual and their thinking is riddled with dishonesty. Their new normal is a maladjusted compass of excuses, justifications, rationalizations, blame and self-pity. Self-pity is a self-absorbed mindset allowing them to feel self-righteous in continued usage, even at the expense of their job, friends and family. Addicts must lower their moral standards to stay in relationship with alcohol and/or drugs.
When I was using I witnessed another addict having convulsions on the floor. His bladder let go in the process and he urinated on himself. When his convulsions stopped and his eyes opened, he stood back up and demanded another hit. Pretty sick. Right?
Yet this scenario plays out hundreds of times a day all over North America. With this image in mind it’s easy to think the addict is the sick one. After all, they’re the ones sticking needles in their arms and cocaine up their nose. But all addicts don’t use drugs or drink copious amounts of alcohol.
Codependents can be addicts too. Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC describes it as: The inherently dysfunctional “codependency dance” requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist/addict)
Codependents have the disease-to-please, also known as relationship addiction. People struggling with this disorder often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. They have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They develop a sense of reward from being needed. In other words, they experience pleasure from the act (the same as an addict experiences pleasure from using) and become addicted to helping sick, needy people.
Codependents must lower their moral standards to stay in relationship with addicted individuals. They mood-alter through rescuing, control, work, food, sex, shopping, dramatic and chaotic love relationships, drinking or using with their addicted partners, or using prescription medications like sleeping pills or benzodiazepines.
A codependent has little or no boundaries. Instead they immerse themselves into their relationships creating a pathological and compulsive dynamic, with the people they’re trying to help, rescue or save. They will bankrupt themselves trying to rescue their loved one, then become bitter when they’re taken advantage of. They feel like victims in their role of giving, even though they refuse to set limits. They justify their behaviors to enable their loved ones addiction.
You might ask yourself who is sicker, the addict or the codependent?
The truthful answer is they are each, equally sick.
Both codependents and addicts struggle with relational problems. Although the relationship between these two is dysfunctional, it’s not what you think.
The codependent is other focused and the addict is substance focused. However what both these individuals truly lack, is a healthy sense of self, and self-awareness.
Both parties will need help to identify triggers and unhealthy behavior patterns.
The next time you’re thinking about helping your addicted loved one, stop. Are you really the one who should be helping them? If you’re the one the addict calls every time they’re in trouble, you’re probably not helping them. What you’re really doing is enabling their illness. Which means you’ve developed the same dishonest thinking patterns they have.
Addicts aren’t the only ones who need protecting from themselves, codependents need it too.
But there is good news.
By now you know what doesn’t work. Make this your opportunity to learn what does. Find out all you can about your illness. Focus on you and changing the things you can. Recovering from addiction and codependency is possible. With the right help and tools, you can live a life beyond your wildest dreams! Call the number below now to get started.
I made the call.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support for line assistance. 1 888 614-2379.