Codependency

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Codependency
Codependency
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Codependency

Man is not an "island", but in exchange with his environment. Therefore, behavior influences each other. It is usually not easy for the social environment either when a close person is addicted, and there is no “magic bullet” for behavior. However, there are certainly options for support and recommendations for behavior. The term “codependency” originally referred to relatives of alcoholics. Based on family self-help groups of Alcoholics Anonymous, changes in behavior and roles of relatives were discussed, which can have an impact on the development, reinforcement or promotion of addictive behavior.

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  • Relatives are not always "co-dependent"
  • Admit helplessness
  • Avoid addictive behavior
  • Be there for yourself
  • Searching for help

Relatives are not always "co-dependent"

As a result, many theses and views emerged that characterize the phenomenon of so-called codependency. From the opinion that every closer reference person is co-dependent, to the expansion of the term to all addictions, other diseases and almost the entire social environment. There is still no uniform expert opinion on the subject. There are, however, tendencies that codependency is understood to mean any behavior that promotes addiction, regardless of the type of addiction. The concept of codependency is understood on the one hand as “assignment of blame”, on the other hand it can also be viewed neutrally: someone behaves in a way that promotes addiction. The influence of relatives on the addict is limited, however, the behavior of another person cannot be completely controlled. And:Not every family member or person in the immediate social environment (including at work) of an addict is “co-dependent”.

Admit helplessness

Hardly anyone consciously and intentionally promotes addictive behavior in those affected. This usually happens in its own moment and is often an expression of coping behavior. In many cases relatives of addicts suffer from the situation and experience a variety of feelings ranging from horror and anger to helplessness. How should one deal with it if, for example, the partner starts to drink? These are events for which one is hardly prepared at all in life. A first important step is to admit to yourself that you don't know what to do on your own. Sometimes there are already other relatives of addicts in the immediate vicinity with whom you can exchange ideas. Children play a special role as relatives.They should be supported and, like all close caregivers, receive timely help.

Avoid addictive behavior

The desire to want to help is legitimate and human. Some support efforts are helpful, some less. But what is not helpful now? Some examples are listed below:

  • To suppress, deny or play down the addiction problem. However, this behavior is also part of the protective behavior of relatives. Other coping mechanisms can be learned in counseling.
  • Obtaining the addictive substance or promoting access to it (for example by means of cash grants) or, in the case of non-substance-related addictions, to facilitate the related activities (e.g. buying a video game if you are addicted to video games).
  • Assumption of all responsibility for the life of the person concerned and reduction of burdens.
  • Excuse and justify addictive behavior.

Often relatives want to control addictive behavior. However, this is difficult to do. Only one's own behavior can be sustainably controlled.

Be there for yourself

The life of many relatives revolves around the addiction problem of the person concerned. It is easy to forget yourself or other people in your immediate vicinity, or even everyday obligations. Take care of your own health and an independent life. Treat yourself to places and times of retreat. Otherwise it can happen, for example, that exhaustion can develop. Paying attention to one's own limits - also in terms of roles and responsibilities (e.g. a partner cannot be a therapist) - is essential. However, that does not mean “walling in” yourself. But saying no or separating your own problems from those of another person is part of it. Of course, that's not always easy. It happens,that relatives have problems themselves or suffer from mental illness - regardless of the addiction of a close caregiver or as a result of it. It is important to seek professional help for yourself in this case.

Searching for help

It is helpful when relatives recognize addiction problems and point them out to the sick. However, expect resistance in this regard. Help is a fine line especially with addicts. And whether those affected accept help is up to them. The willingness of addicts to do this can also change over time. Relatives may be involved in therapies if they wish. However, what you can actively do: Seek support yourself as early as possible, even if the person affected is not ready for therapy in your environment. However, it is never too late to seek support. How you can recognize addiction and which contact points are available can be found under the respective addictions.

The following contact points and information can help:

  • You can find information about counseling centers in the Addiction Aid Compass and via the addiction prevention and addiction coordination centers.
  • Information on the addiction help compass is also available in sign language.
  • The umbrella organizations of the self-help groups in your state can be found under Services. Among other things, they provide information about addresses in your area.
  • Brochures and folders can be found under Addiction / Addiction: Brochures.
  • General contact points in the field of psyche & soul can be found under When the psyche needs help.

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