Are you a Co-addict?
Caring for and loving a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be one of the hardest things to watch. As a loved one, you may feel it is your job to protect this person from harm. In that process, it is easy to get lost in an addict’s problems and focus all of your energies on their addiction.
So are you in a relationship with an active addict? Do you wonder: “Did I marry an addict?” Be it a parent, brother, cousin, spouse, or child, life with an addict can wear you out. If you not sure how to handle their addiction and feel like you are losing yourself, you’re in the right place. We review signs of a co-addict here. Then, we invite your questions about how to deal with co-addiction or leaving an addict spouse or partner at the end.
Am I a Co-addict?
If you have asked yourself if you are an enabler, you may be a co-addict.
8 Signs you are a co-addict
1. Overwhelming emotions. You find yourself becoming distressed with worry, depression, anger, and fear over the addict’s behavior. You become consumed with negative feelings every time the addict uses and you are more invested in their problems than your own.
2. Neglecting responsibilities. Inattention to parenting, cooking, work, and other responsibilities.Putting your life on the back burner every time the addict uses or has a crisis.
3. Being careless about personal appearance/hygiene. Because of all of the energy you are putting into the addict, you find little time to shower, brush your hair, teeth, or take care of your personal appearance the way you like or the way you used to.
4. Binging/Emotional eating. You are either too upset to eat or binging on junk food every time a crisis occurs with the addict. A crisis can be anything from your spouse forgetting to pick up the kids from school because they are high to being arrested or overdosing on drugs.
5. Keeping Secrets. You find yourself holding things the addict is doing inside or leaving out details to others because you feel they would make the addict look badly. You feel shame or embarrassed to talk to people you trust about what is going on.
6. Enabling. When the addict fails to meet your needs or his/her responsibilities you pick up the slack. You make up for this deficit,whether emotionally, financially, socially or professionally, over and over again. NON-Enabler Enabling – I use this term for people, like myself, who insist they do not enable addicts. They confront the addict, fight with the addict over their drug use, and are clear that the drug use is the problem. To their knowledge they do not pick up the slack for the addict and do not make excuses for them. However, when one does not set boundaries with an addict, allows an addict in their life despite their addiction, this is still enabling. If a person does set boundaries, complains about the broken promises, and ultimately forgives the addict over and over again, this is also enabling. For example, if your spouse was out all night getting high, you do not speak to him for a week, BUT after a week, if they are sorry enough, you forgive—you are enabling. If you are not happy with the behaviors of an addict and you continue to try to be in a relationship with them, you must turn the focus on your own behaviors. If an addict knows that even though you don’t agree with what they are doing, you are not going to leave them, they have no real consequence and,in turn, this is enabling.
7. Less enjoyment for the things you love to do. You love to read, surf, exercise, dine with friends, watch movies, paint, walk, or do yoga, and find the things that brought you enjoyment;you either chose not to do anymore, do not have the energy to do, or cannot find the time to do. Too much time and mental energy is being taken up by the addict’s addiction.
8. Friends and family see a change in you.The people you love, those who are detached from your situation, and can see more clearly, tell you there is a negative change in your behavior. Before an addictive relationship begins, your true friends and family knew you for the person you are. If a loved one tells you they sense something is wrong, and they are worried about you and see you disengaged—heed their warning.
If you in a relationship with an addict, chances are, you are a co-addict. If you have to ask the question, “Am I a co-addict?” it is more than likely that you already are. When co-addiction takes over, your own needs become trivial. As the addict declines in their addiction, a co-addict will become increasingly concerned, worried, and begin to disregard their own happiness and responsibilities to care for the addict.
Questions about co-addiction
So, if you think that you might be a co-addict…what do you do next? Please leave us your questions and comments in the section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly if you send us your feedback.