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Relationships & Addiction

Relationships and addiction are closely linked and must be addressed simultaneously for lasting recovery.

Addiction cannot be separated from relationships.

Relationships and addiction have the potential to profoundly impact one another. Sometimes, relationship dysfunction, family dynamics and maladaptive behavioral styles cause or perpetuate addiction. Other times, addiction causes or perpetuates relationship problems. Either way, the two are closely linked and must be treated simultaneously in order to achieve lasting, far-reaching recovery.

At Caron, we can help you build a treatment program that meets your needs.

Impact of addiction on relationships

When cycles of addiction spin out of control, relationships suffer in countless ways. Channels of communication break down, causing loved ones to deploy defense mechanisms such as suppressing feelings, rationalizing, intellectualizing, withdrawing, acting-out, self-medicating and over-controlling. Some people avoid conflict, while others completely lose sight of boundaries and become deeply entrenched in cycles of addiction.

Regardless of which coping mechanisms they entail, relationships characterized by addiction may eventually lead to serious problems both in the present and future. Children from families of addicts, for example, often find themselves neglected, vying for attention or prematurely forced into the role of parent. They enter adulthood with huge emotional burdens and are likely to run their own families based on the dysfunction they experienced in childhood.

For these reasons and many more, recovery from addiction can and should be a family affair.

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Addiction & The Family

Addiction does not just affect individuals—it affects entire families. Regardless of the substance abuser’s age or family role, it damages family structures in the following areas:

Relationships

Addiction affects familial relationships by decreasing stability at home, creating a lack of unity, and fostering a chaotic family dynamic. Parents who abuse substances cause severe familial dysfunction and can induce self-esteem problems in children. Parental substance abuse also leads to a sense of helplessness in children, as there is nothing children can do to change their parent’s behavior. If the drug abuser is a child, the family tends to either enable destructive behavior or feel helpless to stop it.

Finances

Chronic abuse can also cause financial problems for families, leaving family members frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted. Addicted persons (and sometimes their family members) have trouble meeting work obligations, because they put addiction-related behaviors and expenses above other responsibilities.

Health

Stresses associated with addiction decrease the mental and physical health of both addicts and family members. Furthermore, drug or alcohol abusers sometimes display mood swings that hinder healthy functioning and open the door for physical violence in the home.

Getting help for the whole family.

When family members are willing to take on the hard work of recovering along with their addicted loved one, both will benefit from improved relationships; better communication; and a happier, more satisfying life.

What is family addiction treatment?

Family addiction treatment refers to treatment programs and therapies geared toward families and loved ones of addicts. It typically examines the family’s daily life and interactions and attempts to identify dysfunctional areas. These areas might include power hierarchy, rules, alignments, communication, enabling and codependency. Family therapy also educates family members on the disease of addiction and the roles they inadvertently play in it.

Benefits of family addiction treatment.

Family addiction treatment not only involves family members in the healing process, it is essential for preventing the cycle of abuse and addiction from passing from generation to generation. Family treatment programs also provide added benefits such as opening lines of communication; preventing divorce and separation; protecting the family from additional stress and anxiety; and giving loved ones a sense of empowerment and control.

Treatment options.

Various options are available for family addiction therapy.

Residential and outpatient treatment centers typically offer programs and counseling for addicts’ families. Treatment is necessary for every family member, because every family member has been negatively impacted by addiction.

Al-Anon and Alateen are 12-Step support groups for families and friends of alcoholics that allow attendees to share experiences and offer hope and encouragement to one another. Together, they make up the Al-Anon Family Groups. Al-Anon and Alateen meet at locations across the country.

Professional Interventions can be extremely helpful in confronting the addict and helping him to make the decision to begin treatment.

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Codependency

What is codependency?

Suffering from codependency involves habitual, self-destructive behaviors that arise from one’s need to be loved at all costs. This serious emotional and behavioral condition can apply to all types of relationships: family, work, friend, romantic, community and peer. 

Becoming codependent typically results from attachment disorder, due to the absence of trust-based relationships with caregivers during childhood. We often find codependency in families of addicts, where family members unknowingly interfere with recovery by enabling addiction.

What does codependent behavior look like?

Individuals who struggle with codependency exhibit the following traits and behaviors:

  • enabling addiction through care that can facilitate drinking or using drugs
  • lack a firm sense of identity; obtain sense of self through interactions with other people
  • passive – unable to assert themselves or recognize their wants or needs
  • form relationships that are emotionally destructive, one-sided and abusive
  • self denial
  • low self-esteem
  • excessively compliant, controlling or caretaking
  • rescuing others
  • unable to establish boundaries with others
  • Treating codependency.

    Codependency should be treated like an addiction, because codependents have as much difficulty accepting their powerlessness over people and events as addicts do over their addictions. If you or someone you love struggles with codependency, please contact Caron about seeking treatment.  

    Webinar

    Patterns of Attachment: A New Language of Codependency

    Based on a modern understanding of attachment disorders, this webinar outlines an emotionally-focused approach to addressing codependency and attachment injuries. Learning goals include:

    • Gaining a basic understanding of the evolution of the term codependency from its inception to the present.
    • Pioneering a shift in language from shaming labels to description of normal human responses to chronic relationship stress.
    • Defining and recognizing attachment injuries and the patterns that develop as a result of those injuries.
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Dysfunctional Relationships

Addiction is closely tied, and often caused or exacerbated by, one’s relationships. Relationships are not only affected by addiction, they have the power to perpetuate it. For this reason, identifying and addressing relational dysfunction is an essential component of effective addiction treatment.

Relationship problems manifest in a variety of ways. Commonly, addicts either struggle to engage in relational intimacy, or they struggle to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.

Intimacy

Healthy, intimate relationships are often difficult for people suffering from addiction, because their disease steals attention and affection away from everyone and everything else in their lives. Other people simply are unable to allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable to another person, thus preventing real intimacy and damaging relationships. Trust issues, trauma or other conditions may also prevent addicts from forming intimate relationships with others.

Overcoming intimacy issues.

At Caron, we offer group therapy that encourages emotional vulnerability and provides a model for healthy intimate relationships. Patients learn to share personal information about and respectfully respond to information that others share. Group therapy also addresses trust, trauma and other issues that have prevented patients from enjoying close relationships with the past.

Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is an essential part of forming and maintaining healthy relationships, but it can be difficult for both men and women. Especially for those struggling with addiction, lack of boundaries can cause problems at home, in the workplace and in various social situations.

As patients recover from addiction, Caron helps them learn to understand and implement internal and external boundaries. Therapeutic programs help patients control impulses that may cause them to violate those boundaries, all while encouraging them to respect themselves and others, maintain healthy mindsets and practice healthy behaviors.

Codependency and enabling

Codependency and enabling are two maladaptive behavioral styles that are commonly linked to relationship dysfunction in the context of addiction.

Getting holistic help.

Caron’s unique treatment philosophy addresses the whole person. Learn more about our proven success in treating addiction.

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Enabling

Enablers are often family members, spouses, close friends, or in a relationship with the addict. Generally well-meaning, enablers may lack the ability to draw boundaries due to how close they are to the addict.

What does enabling addiction look like?

Enabling behaviors include the following:

  • Justifying: agreeing with the addict’s rationalizations, saying it's “just a phase”
  • Minimizing: claiming the addict’s behavior “isn’t so bad”
  • Faulty reasoning: believing the addict’s promises, expecting the addict to be rational
  • Avoiding: escaping stress through work, food, etc.; keeping the peace
  • Providing for the addict's needs: giving the addict money, clothing, housing, and food
  • Rescuing: paying bills, making car payments, paying bail, paying lawyers fees
  • Enduring: keeping feelings inside, being paralyzed by fear
  • Covering up: making excuses for the addict’s behavior, writing late notices, lying
Treatment for enabling addiction.

Enablers cannot help addicts until they seek help for their own behavior. Fortunately, various support groups, literature and self-help groups exist to help enablers find better ways to deal with loved ones’ addictions.

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Family Addiction Treatment

When family members are willing to take on the hard work of recovering along with their addicted loved one, both will benefit from improved relationships; better communication; and a happier, more satisfying life.

What is family addiction treatment?

Family addiction treatment refers to treatment programs and therapies geared toward families and loved ones of addicts. It typically examines the family’s daily life and interactions and attempts to identify dysfunctional areas. These areas might include power hierarchy, rules, alignments, communication, enabling and codependency. Family therapy also educates family members on the disease of addiction and the roles they inadvertently play in it.

Benefits of family addiction treatment.

Family addiction treatment not only involves family members in the healing process, it is essential for preventing the cycle of abuse and addiction from passing from generation to generation. Family treatment programs also provide added benefits such as opening lines of communication; preventing divorce and separation; protecting the family from additional stress and anxiety; and giving loved ones a sense of empowerment and control.

Treatment options.

Various options are available for family addiction therapy.

  • Residential and outpatient treatment centers typically offer programs and counseling for addicts’ families. Treatment is necessary for every family member, because every family member has been negatively impacted by addiction.
  • Al-Anon and Alateen are 12-Step  support groups for families and friends of alcoholics that allow attendees to share experiences and offer hope and encouragement to one another. Together, they make up the Al-Anon Family Groups.  Al-Anon and Alateen meet at locations across the country.
  • Professional Interventions can be extremely helpful in confronting the addict and helping him to make the decision to begin treatment.

Treating the family along with the addict is an important part of restoring everyone’s long-term health and well-being. For more information on how to get help for your family, please contact Caron.

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