Understanding the Terms: Misuasage vs Addiction
It can often be very hard for an addict to find help, let alone complete a successful treatment. In this article, I will not be focusing on the treatment itself. I will instead talk about an important factor that could highly influence the outcome of the treatment; Codependency.
So, what exactly is codependency and what are the signs of codependency in a relationship with a person who is an addict?
First, before we discuss codependency, we need to define the terms addiction and misuse. The term „addiction“ should not be confused with the term „misusage.”
The American Psychiatric Association defines „misusage of substance” as repeated use of the substance despite the fact that the substance in question is disrupting social and professional life and causing mental and physical problems.
If you got drunk at a party, you couldn’t drive, and you had to sleep to get sober again, then you were misusing alcohol. The most misused drug is alcohol. Note the usage of the term „misused.” It’s a fairly common thing.
Addiction is a much worse problem than the misuse of a substance. Addiction has serious long-term social, psychological and physiological aspects.
The behavioral component of the addiction is usually the loss of control over the substance, for example, when the addict organizes his life solely to acquire and use the addictive substance.
A codependent relationship
A codependent relationship is a type of dysfunctional relationship in which a person helps and supports the addict (in the context of this article) in his acquisition and usage of the substance that he or she is addicted to.
The addict is dependant on the „caretaker,” and the codependent subject is dependant on the addict and, sometimes, their addiction.
This dependency occurs when the codependent person has an unconscious drive to serve others. This can come from the codependent’s low self-esteem which may be rooted in early childhood experiences and transfers into adulthood.
The codependent person finds it difficult to interact with others in a healthy and assertive manner.
An Addict and Codependent
In many cases, people addicted to drugs and alcohol have become addicted simply to bury their pain. This means that the addict suffers from some painful situation. It is also possible that he has lived through some trauma, like sexual or physical abuse or another traumatic event.
Another important influence on addiction is poverty. Poverty places one in a position where he is almost certain to be in contact with unhealthy social role models; one of those models being drug and alcohol abuse.
In the cases where an addict has suffered through child abuse, the addict may come in contact with addictive drugs earlier than other potential addicts, and in severe cases becomes addicted to hard drugs before their eighteenth birthday.
The codependent person has an exaggerated sense of responsibility for actions of others and has problems refusing other people. Therefore, the codependent person sees the addict’s behavior as their problem. In many cases of substance abuse, the addicts are male, and codependents are female.
The (potential) addict begins with a strong general need to eliminate pain or suffering. The codependent has a strong need for serving. In an addict/co-dependent relationship there is a need for control and there is always one who has more control and influence over the behavior of the other.
When the two first meet everything appears normal and goes well. However, over the course of the relationship, the addiction becomes apparent and the „caretaker” begins to assert and attempt to control the situation.
Due to the codependents need for control, and often fear of loss, they begin subtly and overtly trying to influence the addict with his habit and believing that they are helping.
The addict can also be addicted to the codependent partner and afraid that the „caretaker” will abandon him.
Over an extended period of time, the circle will continue to reinforce itself. If this situation is not recognized and treated, and it will become more difficult to treat.
It is almost impossible to lead a productive working and social life for individuals in such cases. In some of the mild to moderate cases, the addicted individual is solely focused on procurement and consumption of the substance.
Meanwhile, the codependent is working, earning, and providing for the livelihood while inadvertently assisting in the addicts procurement of drugs or alcohol.
It is nearly impossible to lead a normal life and social relationships in such circumstances, but addicts somehow seem to manage and maintain social contacts that are oriented towards substance distribution, procurement, and consumption.
The codependent partner is usually focused solely on the addict and is not focusing on developing social contacts herself or himself. That leads to more social isolation with the codependent focusing mostly on their obsessive relationship with the addict.
The Parents and Children
In codependency, the relationships with parents almost never remain the same and usually worsens and lead to the point of no contact.
If the codependent couple has children, the children will suffer due to the addiction and codependency and over time might also become codependent.
Since the codependent parents have trouble with social interactions and communication, the parasitic relationship can make the children develop abnormally with fear and anger issues and contempt for authority.
The children can easily become influenced by the behavior of the addict and develop their own addiction, or possibly form a codependent relationship with others who have the same predispositions to become addicts.
It is very hard for a person to change their codependent behavior. If codependency appears in a relationship in which one partner is codependent while the other one is addicted, both of the disorders need to be treated together since the codependent person has difficulty adjusting to change and the addict needs someone to provide monetary means of acquiring the addictive substance.
The behavioral patterns of codependent individuals are rooted in their childhood experiences so, to get better, treatment includes diving into childhood experiences and rediscovering and building healthy boundaries, improving decision making and strengthening self-esteem.
Although this may sound easy, it is not, because the behavior is often deeply rooted in the individual’s psyche and because it is strengthened by the relational dynamics of the codependent relationship.
The types of psychotherapy for treatment of such relationships range from individual therapy to group therapies. Individual therapies are used for one on one interactions with a therapist and more in-depth work focused on the client’s childhood and adolescence.
At the same time, the addict will work on his motivations for substance addiction and the abuse that he has experienced at some point during his life.
Both parties may be included in the group therapy sessions to work on handling rejection, controlling and managing their emotions and communication skills.
The clients may also be included in couple therapy, especially if a therapist is experienced and capable of treating their relationship and codependency along with addiction.
This can speed up the healing process because clients will not have to undergo several parallel therapies. Their therapists will need to coordinate and exchange contact information for follow up on the treatment.
The scientific community knowledge of the specialty addiction therapeutic processes has vastly improved in the last thirty years. Disorders that used to be impossible to cure are now considered to be curable.
The most important part of any therapeutic work is the client’s motivation for change. It will still be difficult, but the motivation for change and choosing the right therapist are the most important parts of any recovery.
The therapeutic method of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is one of the most promising therapeutic disciplines when it comes to curing addiction, building self-esteem and assertiveness because it enables and empowers the client to truly be in charge of their progress and, when the treatment is finished, their life.
This type of psychotherapy is very important because most codependent couples and addicts come into therapy with trust issues and have troubles setting boundaries. The Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy makes it possible for them to be the masters of their fate.
The therapist is there to provide support and to assign „homework” for the client. The client will receive tasks, such as noting their feelings and thoughts in different situations and modifying them at their own pace, in order to influence their behavior.
The rate of full recovery in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is well above 70% and more than 90% of clients who don’t recover fully say that their lives have improved dramatically after treatment, with some of them leaving the addiction behind, but not wishing to fully complete the emotional part of the treatment.
For those clients who can trust others, hypnotherapy is an effective type of treatment.
There are many misconceptions about hypnosis, the most notable one being that hypnosis is mind control, or that the hypnotist can make you do something against your will.
It is scientifically proven that hypnosis can’t make you do anything that you are not willing to do in your ordinary waking state.
Hypnosis is efficient because you can refine and state your desires, including what you consider to be important for your treatment. The therapist will then use his clinical experience and knowledge to broaden the level of change that you will experience.
The changes that you experience can be broad but empowering, truly life-changing, and very effective in your recovery and treatment.
Hypnotic suggestion consolidates and expands on those experiences and mental processes that the therapist explored during a hypnotic trance.
After hypnosis therapy, you may notice that everything around you is different. Suddenly, you are surrounded by good people who truly love you. You may have found a new love or you remained with your partner. You may have more money than you ever did. You may have a good job.
You will have built your new Empire of Success and Happiness, and it will always there with you.
When you are motivated, a good therapist will help you to move forward. It is challenging, but addiction and codependency can be conquered.
Although many people have devoted their lives to the research of addiction and how it correlates with codependency, more research is required.
There are some gray areas in these two morbid disorders that need to be further explored for the therapists to truly understand the clients and to help them move forward.
As the basic knowledge of the therapeutic process continues to expand and evolve, we will most certainly find that addiction and codependency will be more easily treated.
This article is a special view of addiction with attention towards a comparison with possible Misuse and consideration of the problem of Codependence.
For more information and professional advice and assistance, we recommend that you contact the help line or intake specialist at your recovery and treatment center of choice.
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This is a very informative talk on the subject of codependency.
A very intense talk on the subject of codependency.