Addicted to addiction (and the addict)
Addicted to the addict?
Presently, we can see more addictions breaking the surface than ever before—drug, alcohol, sex, internet, gambling, pornography, shopping, exercise and food addiction are just some of the forms our society struggles with.
Co-addiction is similar. A co-addict is not just a victim of another’s drug dependency, they are themselves an addict. What’s a basic definition of co-addiction? A co-addict is addicted to the addict. A co-addict’s behavior is directly influenced, not by a substance, but by another human being.
A Co-Addict is Flawed
Deep rooted in the theories of Al-Anon, a group which helps co-addicts; is the belief that the co-addict is the one with the problem. A co-addict is asked to look at howtheir flaws contribute to their dysfunctional relationship.
The first time I was told that I was the problem in my co-addictive marriage, I became irate. Not only was my husband making me feel crazy, but now a group of sober strangers were telling me that something was wrong with me. I felt like they were just furthering their co-addictive tendencies by letting the addict off the hook.
I was angry at the addict and I was angry that a group of people who claimed they could help me, were telling me that my husband’s behavior was my fault. Although it took me a long time to reconcile, I did realize I was responsible. No one could keep me captive, and at any juncture, I had the right to leave him, and I didn’t. I was addicted to the drama, fights, commotion, crisis, peaks, and valleys of the addict’s behavior. If he was doing well, then I was happier than I could have imagined, and if he was using, I felt like I was dying inside.
Addicted to addiction: A Different Perspective
My journey to recovery deviated from the beliefs of Al-Anon. I knew I was flawed. I believed a co-addict was liable. My questions stood with some methods recommended for dealing with an addict. For me personally, I found the approach was too complacent. I wasn’t ready to take full responsibility and continue to love the addict. I wanted my life back and I found the only way to break my addiction to my husband was cold turkey.
For me, living with my husband, I could compare to an addict trying to recover, and living with their dealer. When I left my home with my child and stopped answering my husband’s calls, I started to act rational. In drug treatment facilities, all addicts must stop drugs and go through detox. This approach interested me. If I was an addict, I had to withdraw completely from the source of my addiction, detox and then deal with my underlying issues afterwards.
So I started thinking about leaving an addicted partner. Although the process took a great deal of time, I realized, like an addict with their drug of choice, I couldn’t putter around with my addiction. When I was truly ready, I had to leave my substance of choice,my husband, so I could fully recover.
An addict has many faces, and some are so spellbinding, exciting and magnetic, that they draw us in and fill whatever void, we, as co-addicts, have. Sometimes we convince ourselves that dealing with the dark side of the addict, is simply a consequence we must pay for those brief moments of ecstasy. What we end up with, is chasing the first high, the beginning of the relationship when things felt better than anything else. Those windows become smaller and smaller and we realize we are chasing a dream.
Co-addicts are addicts, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but they are addicts, nonetheless.
Questions about co-addiction
Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below. We will try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt reply.
Photo credit: nattu