Codependency is an excessive reliance on a specific relationship. Such relationships often arise from an underlying dysfunction, such as addiction, abuse, or psychological issues. Codependent people often go to great lengths to keep their partner happy, often neglecting their own needs. In relationships involving drug and alcohol abuse, codependency can reveal itself in the form of enabling behaviours.
Are You an Enabler?
An enabler is someone who, in an effort to keep a partner happy or to avoid conflict, will act in a way that encourages their partner’s addiction. Seemingly inconsequential actions eventually result in both people shouldering the burden of addiction. Examples of enabling behaviour include:
Ignoring Red Flag Behaviours:
Partners who are enablers will ignore behaviours such as social withdrawal, mood swings, irregular behaviour, or visible changes in appearance in their partner. It is important to pick up on these signs and address them immediately.
Denial and Excuses:
It is very difficult for an enabler to admit that someone they love is addicted to drugs or alcohol. They accept excuses made by partners and willingly make excuses for them to others to protect them. Downplaying and justifying the problem is a way to protect themselves and avoid tension and disapproval from the addicted partner.
Allowing the Addiction to Become the Priority:
Codependent enablers often go to great lengths to keep them functioning, but inadvertently feed the addiction by providing financial support that continues the habit, constantly bailing them out of bad situations, shouldering their responsibilities and acting in ways that go against their principles.
How To Address Your Codependency
Codependent enablers are typically unaware of the negative impact this pattern has on their own well-being. Enablers are at risk of developing addictions themselves and being unable to function in their own lives. Here are some tools that can help break the pattern:
Be Honest with Yourself, First:
In a codependent relationship, both individuals are typically in denial. It is important for the enabler to be honest with themselves and recognise the role they play in their partner’s addiction. Do not ignore the early warning signs that your partner needs help.
Boundaries Are Crucial:
At first, it may seem unhelpful, even cruel to set boundaries with a partner in the grip of addiction. However, awareness of the consequences of one’s addiction is a critical step towards recovery. Shielding your loved one from the reality will only delay their decision to choose rehab. Help your partner by being consistent, whether you choose to stop financing their habit, allowing them to live in your home, or lying on their behalf.
Make Self Care A Priority
Consider exploring help for yourself by enrolling in therapy sessions or checking out self-help groups for loved ones of addicts such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Sharing with others who have been in the same situation can be profoundly helpful and can provide you with a support system for managing your enabling tendencies.
Treating Codependency in Relationships with Drug Abuse
Rehab Melbourne offers excellent counselling programs for both partners in relationships struggling with addiction. You can learn more about our rehabilitation services by calling 1800 954 749 or using the online enquiry form.