Co-dependency is a psychological term for one of the most basic and, in many ways, most honorable impulses of humanity. This is the need for us to put the well-being of others before ourselves. Although this noble desire is the beating heart of many happy families and successful relationships, it can turn sour when it comes up against the nightmare of addiction. Co-dependency, or the persistent prioritizing of another person’s needs above one’s own, can be a very poor match for the skewed motives of the addict, especially the chemical and substance abusing addict.
Addiction and Co-Dependency
Addiction is a disease that takes and takes. The tendency of the codependent is to give and give and give. The co-dependent is very prone to giving so much that they harm themselves. The addict continues to take even after the taking begins to hurt. The disasters inherent in this equation should be very obvious for all to see. Co-dependency can be negative even in ordinary relationships. Narcissists have the capacity to take vicious advantage of those who put others before themselves, and mildly negative situations can lead to terrible outcomes far more often than most people realize.
How Addiction Controls the Co-Dependency
Addiction exacerbates these problems to the greatest degree. The intensely individual nature of addiction, where the addicted individual is compelled to maniacally seek out the substance that holds power over them, artificially creates a situation very similar to narcissism. A narcissist will do anything for their own gratification, and the addict will do anything for the gratification of the drug or substance that controls them. A co-dependent individual is an easy target for the addict’s warped internal motivational system, as the co-dependent need to help can be used over and over again to satisfy the addiction. The guilt and other negative social effects of the addict’s behavior towards the co-dependent effect both the victimized partner and the addict. The addict is often aware that their behavior is abusive on some level, yet find themselves powerless to stop doing it. This pushed the addict further and further into their negative posture, confirming them in their bad behaviors and giving them ample opportunity to develop new ones. This continues to the absolute limit of the victim’s co-dependency, and in some people that limit can be extremely unhealthy to reach.
What Make Someone Co-Dependent
Co-dependency is generally seen as a learned behavior, though naturally, the tendency is more ingrained in some than others. There are two major ways in which codependency can affect addiction recovery. The first is when the addict finds co-dependent people to support them, and the second is when the addict themselves is codependent. This is all the more serious when did the individual they co-depend upon has their own substance abuse problems. This tragic situation is far from uncommon.
All human beings surround themselves with co-dependent people and learn co-dependence on them. This is the tradition of cooperation that makes our lives possible and worthwhile. Addiction can violate this system of trust, causing the addict to “burn out” the codependent people around them. This leaves the addict all the more isolated by their disease. As the addict’s unreasonable and often irrational demands push the people around them to their various limits, their community breaks down and they are left alone. This experience is obviously terribly detrimental to their friends and loved ones, who have to deal with the experience of seeing the person they knew transformed into a new individual who they have found they cannot trust. However, it should definitely be considered that the loss of community and positive social influences will have a concentrated toxic effect upon the addict. After all, their friends and family members have only lost one person. The addiction has lost everyone. This isolation has a very strong tendency to push them into guilt and despair. This will push them further into addiction.
Many addicts are co-dependent themselves, and many addictions find their roots in co-dependent behavior. Co-dependency can be stressful, especially when the relationship is going poorly. This is why many people find their co-dependency to be a source of pain and discomfort. In fact, the trauma caused when a co-dependent partner finds themselves hurt by their partner has driven many an individual to substance abuse and eventual addiction. It can be said that this is one of the most common routes to addiction in existence.
Finally, mutually co-dependent people who both have substance abuse problems constitute one of the most tragic and precarious social conditions possible for either partner. They are much like two drowning people trying to save each other. Co-dependent addicts in recovery should strongly consider limiting their exposure to each other as much as possible, with the greatest emphasis on distance during the time of recovery. The tendency to pull each other into negative habits and patterns of behavior is simply too strong for the vast majority of people to resist. It is asking too much of the human soul to expect two people trapped in such profoundly negative cycles of behavior to be able to survive the risks inherent in being around each other. The professional intervention was invented for precisely this reason. The tragedy of two co-dependent addicts pushing each other into relapse and addiction is all too familiar, and it must be avoided at all costs.
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