If you are supporting a loved one who is dealing with substance use disorder (SUD), you should first examine whether your relationship has been enabling or codependent. Knowing how to detect the warning signs can help your loved one reverse course and maintain progress in recovery.
Time to Re-Examine Your Relationship
SUD always impacts relationships. For example, if your spouse is getting treatment to recover from addiction, health professionals may coach them on how to rebuild your relationship after a loss of trust or hurt that has been caused. You may want to seek counseling and education on how to support your loved one. Part of that education involves a re-examination of the health of your relationship.
Some families fall into a vicious cycle of making excuses for addiction or giving in to the addicted person’s requests. For example, teenagers who develop substance addiction may find ways to get financial support from their parents, which makes it easier for them to buy drugs. The loved ones often feel that cutting them off or exposing them would cause more damage than simply letting the addiction persist.
The harm of these codependent relationships has much to do with a lack of healthy and strong boundaries. Spouses or parents find it difficult, if not impossible, to say no to their loved ones. In some cases, there is verbal, emotional, and physical abuse in the relationship. Both the person with addiction and the enabler feel stressed and anxious about the relationship without knowing how to improve it.
Warning Signs of Codependency in Relationships
Codependent relationships are often characterized by a lack of boundaries. You may feel that life revolves around caring for your partner. You constantly give in to their desires and wishes. You find it difficult to say no. This is why codependency is known as a kind of “relationship addiction.” Over time, there can be a loss of self-identity and self-esteem.
Situations of codependency also happen when you make excuses or cover up for the other person. Your loved one never learns about personal accountability. They always rely on you to fix situations. This lack of self-control can become a major impediment to recovery from SUD.
People living in codependent relationships may also have poor communication skills. They might be fearful of expressing genuine emotions and feelings. Since being able to channel negative emotions is crucial for recovery, and they have become reliant on you for conflict resolution, they could have a difficult time learning this life skill.
Recovering From Relationship Addiction
To face the problem, understand that codependency is directly related to your loved one’s SUD. For your loved one to recover from the harmful effects of addiction, both of you need to address the codependency issue
Addressing codependency does not mean total independence from each other. There is a healthy dependence in relationships where you can honestly share your needs and desires, ask for support when you are struggling, but still say no to requests that overstep boundaries or cross into unhealthy territory. You can support your loved one without sacrificing your own needs or blurring the boundaries of personal accountability.
Practical Advice for Rebuilding Recovery-Supportive Relationships
There need to be honest conversations between you and your loved one about how to renew your relationship. With the help of family therapy, you and your loved one can talk about how past relationship dynamics have contributed to stress, substance use, and resulting hurt. Once you both reach some consensus about moving on to a new phase of this relationship, you can set some agreements.
First, let your loved one make their own decisions, especially regarding addiction recovery. This is one of the most important and healthy boundaries both of you should start with. They need to carefully think about how to work with recovery experts. Meanwhile, assure them of your love and support whenever necessary.
Secondly, both of you should learn how to productively express true emotions and feelings. You are the strongest emotional support for your loved one during recovery. Learn to validate and protect your own emotional ups and downs. Confess that you also have emotional needs. Both of you can make use of professional support, such as couples counseling, for codependent relationships.
Finally, because codependency is a complex dynamic with lasting impacts, you must practice self-care to recover from it. Remember that your relationship with yourself is just as important as the relationships you build with others. Balance the time you spend with your loved one with regular time for yourself. A temporary break from old relationship patterns can be the chance you need to explore what well-being means to you. With enough time, you will be in a better place to support your loved one.
If you are supporting a loved one with substance addiction, examine whether your relationship has been codependent. Patterns of enabling left unaddressed can lower the chance of your loved one’s recovery. Knowing how to detect the warning signs can help your loved one reverse course and maintain progress in recovery. You do not need to carry out this task alone. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced mental health professionals can coach family members to support their loved ones by healing from codependency. Our family-based therapy works effectively to modify enabling relationship dynamics. Both you and your loved one need to practice accountability. We will walk alongside you as your loved one continues their recovery. Call us today to discover how you can be part of our community, as healthy family support is key to your loved one’s recovery. For more information, call 866-934-5276.