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Co-Dependency: Living With An Addict

CO-DEPENDENCY-TWSThe definition of co-dependency describes a group of signs and symptoms that are normally present in those who live or have lived with an addict. Those who have lived with an addict tend to take on care-taking responsibilities, they deny their feelings, they develop a quest for perfection, and live in a state of fear and dishonesty. A person who is co-dependent may not be addicted to a substance but they may exhibit similar characteristics to that of the addicted person.

More: Co-Dependents 


Loss of Identity

In addition to taking on unnecessary responsibility and trying to achieve impossible goals, a co-dependent person may also lose their identity. Living with an addicted person often puts a damper on freedoms and the ability to express oneself. Eventually the co-dependent learns not to express their opinion, and they often attempt to even make up for or compensate for the alcoholic’s irresponsible behavior.

Internal Struggle

Individuals who suffer from the plight of co-dependency often have internal struggles regarding emotions. They often feel angry, confused, guilty, or inadequate. They often focus their attention on the alcoholic which leaves their own needs neglected. This usually creates long-term difficulties in terms of creating an identity as well as setting boundaries and developing positive self-esteem.  In this regard the co-dependent person is usually characterized as an individual who greatly desires to be loved by others to the point of neglecting their own needs. They also often attract partners who are addictive, abusive, or in other fashions, dysfunctional.

Physical and Emotional Effects

There are also many physical and emotional consequences associated with co-dependency. These effects include depression, dysfunctional relationships, anxiety, as well as the cycling between lethargy and hyperactivity. Physical issues include gastro-intestinal disturbances including ulcers and colitis. Migraine headaches and non-specific rashes as well as skin problems are common effects. High blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and all other conditions related to stress related physical illnesses can be attributed.

Help For The Co-Dependent

Even if the addict themselves does not get help, there is help for those who live with them. Programs such as Nar-Anon, Al-Anon or CoDA, allow family members the opportunity to express their concerns and emotions regarding the addict in their home. Denial is a big part of life for those who live with a substance abuser and by truly recognizing behaviors, change can happen. The co-dependent should not suffer throughout their life due to the behavior and actions of the drug abuser in their midst.

Related: The Watershed Family Outreach Program

Addiction does not only affect the abuser, but those around them as well. The children of alcoholics become co-dependents as do the spouses of addicts. For this reason it is important that a parent or spouse enter a drug rehab program. Contact The Watershed now for more information.

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