What does it mean to be “codependent” and does it exist in the world of active drug addiction and alcoholism? It’s no secret that many drug and/or heroin addicts don’t like to use alone. In fact, 80% of drug addicts use with a friend or someone they at least consider one. But what happens when an addict/alcoholic gets into a romantic relationship with another addict/alcoholic? These relationships are downright toxic and can become deadly real fast.
It’s a known fact that people are drawn to others they can identify with. Getting involved in a relationship with another individual that uses and is addicted to heroin or other drugs typically creates feelings of identity and significantly reduces feelings of loneliness. They say that misery loves company and this is clearly no different. This “trap” is enticing and alluring because an addicted individual no longer has to feel alone.
Addicted couples share the mutual goal of scoring dope and getting high each and every day. The pleasure seeking behavior and experiencing the rush and feelings of euphoria seem better when you’re bonding with another individual with the same problem – especially in a romantic relational context. Moreover, you have someone who now understands the depth of the emotional and physical pain of heroin withdrawal and feelings that led to drug seeking behaviors in the first place, Imagine the bond you’d have with someone when you’ve experienced the absolute best of the best and worst of the worst with them. This cannot be compared to a normal relationships highs and lows, when we take into consideration the affects of addiction.
This seemingly inescapable bond has taken many good people down. It’s usually very similar or the same from the individual to the codependent couple. But what is codependency and how do relationships become like this?
What is Codependency and How Does a Relationship Become Codependent?
Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one individual supports or enables another person’s pathological lifestyle. This includes but isn’t limited to drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
Many addicts have only started using drugs because their partner or significant other did. It’s a classic story. “Amelia” met “Jake” and he just sucked her in, she never even drank before she met him, let alone would ever consider shooting heroin. Yet, 2 months down the road, “Amelia” is a full blown heroin addict. Why? Why would a seemingly normal, sober person find themselves shooting up or addicted because their partner is?
The answer lies in the longings of human nature that’s been perverted and depraved. People naturally want to be unconditionally loved and needed by others. Keeping these longings in mind, a “normie” (someone who doesn’t do drugs and/or isn’t addicted) will get caught up in aspects of the relationship and may even end up using in an attempt to understand how their addicted partner feels. This sounds crazy right? And it rarely even happens right? Wrong. As soon as the sober partner uses, often times the addict will encourage them to keep using. This becomes their assurance and security that their once sober and now drug using partner won’t leave.
In other instances, the sober partner does stay sober. But they become a “co-addict”. In other words, they cover up the addicted partners behavior, help them use, accept excuses, support them financially and put their addicted partner’s needs before their own. Many nights they’ll spend awake wondering if the addict is okay. They may find themselves becoming the caretaker of the addict. They believe that they can love and support the addict out of their addiction, so they stay in the unhealthy relationship they’re in. Sometimes, the addict has no other support from family or friends, so the “co-addict” feels needed and obligated to help the addict.
Then, there is the scenario, where two addicts come together and form a relationship. Perhaps they met on the streets, in a detox, or at a friends house. What ever the case may be, the combination is usually toxic. The codependency is almost instant. The scenario involves two people who’ve already struggled to stay high, learned the trade of manipulation and lies and understand the desperation and depravity of addiction. When the two come together, they become a team.
I personally know a couple who’d write forged checks and cash them together, go to Walmart and steal TV’s together and rob dope houses together. It’s described as “love”, but take drugs out of the situation and a person may see what it is more clearly. The biggest problem in this scenario is that most times, one won’t get clean without the other. Or they’ll try to get clean for the other, instead of doing it for themselves, only to fall right back into using. And if the couple manages to become clean, one may decide one day that they want to get high and the other instantly latches on to the idea. Thus, they feed off each other and both fall into a drug relapse.
Conquering Codependent Behaviors and Relationships
So how to you conquer codependent behaviors or relationships? Doing so includes understanding that you are not helping the person in any of the above scenarios. Codependent behavior actually destroys the relationship and harms the individual. What you think is “help” is actually “hurt”. Seek out support from other “ex-codependents”. Recognize the signs of codependency. Advocate for your own health, care and personal well-being. Ultimately, put you first. You can’t lift someone up if you’re running on empty. Set boundaries or cut contact if necessary and appropriate. Again, seek support. Codependancy usually has a couple thinking “I’d die for you”. Unfortunately, many do.
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Written by Chanda Lynn, Blogger/Writer for Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)
Edited and Published By William Charles, Founder/Publisher
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