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April 26, 2016

Codependent Behaviours

Codependent Behaviours in the Family

Family members often feel incredible guilt. They think that they are at fault. The chemically dependent person keeps denying responsibility, and someone must be held accountable, so the family member often takes the blame. These people will attempt to control their out-of-control environment in any way they can by whining, threatening, crying, seeking counselling (for themselves), manipulating, and lying. They believe that if they could do something different, then their addict would be able to stop using.

Loss of control – As more and more energy is expended in trying to control someone else; the family members lose contact with themselves. They become so involved in the addicted person that they lose who they are, what they want, and how they feel. This leaves their interpersonal relationships unstable and unfulfilled.

Shame – Codependency is deeply rooted in the feeling of shame. The family members feel as though something is wrong with them. They have to keep hiding and lying about the goings on in the home out of embarrassment and humiliation. Perkinson (2005, pg 189) states that the family members believe that the real reason the family is in such a mess is because they are not doing enough.

Care-taking – Family members of an addicted person learn to be caretakers. They become obsessed with taking care of the addict, so much so that they lose sight with their own needs. This diverts the family member from feeling the pain in their own life.

Enabling – The family members will have a long history of making excuses for the addict. They have been protecting the addict from facing the severity of their problem. They help the addict get out of trouble. They will lie because they are ashamed of the reality of their family life. Enabling is the way the family members protect themselves from the reality of the situation. They fear that if they do not enable, then their world will collapse. Family members must realise that they have kept the illness alive by protecting the addict from the reality of his or her behaviour. By their constantly getting the addict out of trouble, the addict could not learn the truth about their disease. They fed into the denial of the disease.

Dependency – Codependent persons do not trust their own decisions. They feel incapable of dealing with their own life. The idea of leaving the addict terrifies them and therefore, they cling to the addict. They develop a profound sense of inadequacy and indecisiveness that keeps them locked in to an intolerable situation.

Poor communication skills – Due to their lack of trust, shame, dependency and guilt the family members do not talk to anyone. They cut themselves off from everyone. They feel afraid of open communication, as the truth might come out and the family would be destroyed. They constantly tell other people what they think these people want to hear rather than how or what they really think or feel.

(Perkinson, 2005, pp 188-191) & (Jarvis, Tebbutt, Mattick & Shand, 2005, pp 183-185)