Addiction is a disease that does not just affect the person who is engaging in addictive behaviors, it also affects those loved one around them. The impact can be so sweeping that many people become obsessed with the person’s addiction and trying to do something about it. Below are attributes common to those with codependency.
- Collusion: Many people help support their partner’s addiction by covering up for them in some way. Social rules about family image and social perceptions pull many people into the addictive process and they become a party to the secrecy. Collusion can also take the form of participating in the addictive behavior. Some become drinking or using “buddies” or gambling partners. Rationalization is also a big part of collusion. Partners tell themselves such things as; “At least he’s not at the strip club, he’s only online”, or “At least she’s not shooting up”.
- Obsessive Preoccupation: Codependents obsess about their partner’s behavior and their lives. They think constantly about their partner’s addiction. They find themselves checking emails, texts, computer history, hiding spots, connections, dealers, checking and credit card statements. These efforts may provide temporary relief of anxiety and create the illusion of control, but in the end they simply help people avoid having to face their own emotions and powerlessness.
- Denial: When they aren’t obsessing, they try to ignore what is going on. They will fixate on the mundane tasks and events of life to avoid reality. They tend to stay busy and overextend themselves. Like the addict, they may try to convince themselves that the behavior isn’t out of control and normalize the behaviors, negating their own intuition and gut instinct.
- Emotional Turmoil: Life becomes an emotional roller coaster and around every corner is another crisis to fix. Many feel a constant anxiousness and worry. Some feel continuous guilt or shame, often about their inability to get a handle on the situation.
- Manipulation: This becomes the tool to gain control over their addicted partner. Threats are often made, but rarely followed through on. Many codependents see themselves as a victim, hero, or martyr. They may even try to take control of the addiction such as handling the money at the casino, trying to be in charge of the alcohol, controlling computer passwords, etc.
- Excessive Responsibility: Many codependents blame themselves for their partner’s problem. They believe that if they changed in some way, their partner would change their behaviors or stop. Codependents also tend to invest far more energy and responsibility than the 50% of the relationship they are actually responsible for.
- Compromise or Loss of Self: Codependency involves a constant series of compromises that erode one’s sense of self. They often compromise their values, morals, beliefs, and needs in the name of the relationship. As their needs fall to the back burner, they often stop spending time with friends, doing hobbies, and outside activities. As they become lost in the person’s addiction, they lose themselves.
If you possess many of these attributes, you are likely in need of professional help to navigate your way back out and reclaim your own life. Consider making an appointment at Innovative Psychological Consultants today. Call us at 763-416-4167
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(Derived from Carnes, Delmonico, & Griffin, 2001)