Here, you’ll find a review of addiction and co-addiction for those interested in getting help for families of addicts. While we can live with an addict in denial of the problem, the truth is that addicts pretty much exhibit the same characteristics. More here on how to identify addiction in a partner or spouse. Then, we invite your questions and comments at the end.
All addicts are the same
I have a friend who had been dating a guy for a few months before they got engaged. This friend had been a huge support to me during my own struggle with my addicted spouse. She was the first person to tell me he was an addict and that he was no different from other addicts. I was under the impression that because my spouse made very good money and we lived a semi-normal existence that he was not a typical addict.
What I learned through my experience and through the stories of other co-addicts is that regardless of the person, all addicts are innately the same. With addicts, there is an intrinsic factor to “use” above all other things. There is a limitless amount of denial and an everyday struggle to realize they can never “use” again. Whether they are a successful business person or destitute, all addicts share the same qualities in relation to addiction.
It took me a long time to come to the realization that my husband was like every other addict. It was this denial that kept me in my own prison for far too many years. You would think a rational, educated, intellectual person would be able to realize that the person they love is an addict but that is not usually the case. My friend’s fiance is a professional, owns his home, and pays all of his bills on time. Even though my friend had watched my sordid situation with addiction, it is hard for her to realize that her boyfriend is an addict just like my ex-husband.
For reasons we cannot understand,when we are in love with an addict we tend to wear blinders. That’s what co-addiction is. We see, but have very limited vision when it comes to this person and their addiction. If I had a dime for every time I said “but you don’t understand my husband is not really like that” or for every time I have heard another person speak the same words regarding their addicted partner, I would have a room full of dimes.
It is extremely common for our “blinders” to be on when it comes to the person we love. We never want to associate them with all of the horrible realities we know of addiction. If we hold the addict to a higher standard and see them as unique or superior to the “average addict,” then we can hold on to the fantasy that things are not that bad and will never get that bad, for a little longer.
Blinders and enabling behavior can meld very quickly. Our blinders can easily transform into enabling and not only do we not grasp addiction but we cannot see our part in its progression.
There are many versions of the truth and we can skew the odds in our favor any way we like but the TRUTH is an addict is an addict is an addict. They come in many different shapes and sizes but they all put their addiction first.
If you have questions of whether your partner is an addict, ask yourself a few simple questions.
- Do they “use” regularly or binge on substances?
- Do they depend on their substance of choice?
- Do they make excuses for using?
- Do they change personalities when using? Do they deny there is a problem?
- Do you feel like something is wrong regardless of how they justify their drug or alcohol use?
If you have answered yes to two or more of these questions, you need to seriously consider that your partner is an addict. The TRUTH is, the sooner you can come to terms with this, the sooner you can help yourself.