By Sandy Baker
Drug and alcohol addiction rips away relationships and can destroy marriages.
Chances are good you will feel hurt, betrayed, and at the end of your rope. But, understanding what drug and alcohol addiction is and how it impacts your marriage can help you to see through to recovery. Learning about codependency is a key place to begin.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency happens when an individual puts the other person first in their relationship. It sounds like an honorable thing to do. After all, most parents put their children ahead of themselves. But, when this comes at the expense of your health, it’s no longer healthy or beneficial.
People become codependent over time. Generally, this is a learned behavior. This means you’ve seen it happen at some point in your life. Perhaps your mother always took a step back to your father or the other way around.
Many people who experience this at a young age become codependent later on in adult relationships. They enter relationships where the other person is emotionally unavailable to them, such as in addiction. Yet, you find yourself hoping that if you just love them enough, things will change.
Many times, codependency leads to feelings of being not worthy of love. It may come with abuse from your partner in any form. Still, you believe you can fix your partner. Day-in-and-day-out, this is all you try to do.
How Does Codependency Relate to Addiction?
Codependent people often become enablers, though they have no true intention of doing so. Rather, they often take steps to help their partner and want to show that they care. Their actions are motivated by hopes of improving the relationship, but the effect is the exact opposite.
By supporting them in any way, it is possible to limit their ability or desire to get treatment for addiction.
Here are a few key examples:
- Your husband is out of his pain medications, so you allow him to use yours simply because you don’t want him to struggle with pain.
- You borrow money from a friend money to cover your spouse’s debts even though you know they are spending money to buy drugs.
- You take on the responsibilities of your wife knowing that she is spending her days drinking alcohol and cannot hold down a job.
It’s a hard situation to be in. And, it is very difficult to admit that you are, in fact, a codependent.
Addressing this problem means real change, especially in the form of marriage counseling. Once you recognize these signs, your next step is to seek out true help for yourself spouse.
How Can You Work Through Codependency and Improve Your Marriage?
At the heart of the problem is the addiction. Individuals who are dependent on drugs and alcohol have experienced chemical changes within their brain. These changes create a demand for alcohol or drugs. The demand is so strong it becomes nearly impossible for individuals to simply stop using or even stop thinking about using. Detox and addiction treatment are essential for removing that type of all-encompassing addiction.
Ultimately, a component of alcohol and addiction therapy will involve detox and then counseling. The counseling should include you, as a spouse. However, this is not all that has to happen.
You also need to make changes for yourself. If you are at risk of abuse of any type, removing yourself from the environment is essential. There is no amount of abuse that is acceptable. More so, as long as you continue to be there and help your spouse to use, the longer the circumstances will continue. Instead, remove yourself from their life until they get sober.
It is not easy to learn to say no. Many people who are codependent have a fear of failure. You may feel as though you failed in stopping the addiction from occurring. In addition to this, you may find that, as a codependent individual, you feel it is wrong to simply walk away when someone is ill and suffering. Yet, this may be the only way to move your relationship forward.
Getting Your Loved One Help
You may want to require your loved one to seek help through detox and treatment at The Ranch at Dove Tree. Solutions exist to provide you and your loved one with the type of support you need. This is not about marriage counseling in its traditional form. Rather, it is about understanding codependency, both from your point-of-view and that of your spouse.
Seeking help is the most important first step to take. It could save your spouse’s life and help you to get your life back, too.