Codependency is very common in people raised in dysfunctional families, and in the partners and children of alcoholics and addicts. Codependent relationships are usually characterized by negative behaviors like attempting to live through or for another, attempts to control others, blaming others, victimization, attempts to “fix” others, and intense anxiety around intimacy.
As an addict tries to support their disease, they enter a cycle of taking and absorbing without being able to give back. An imbalance sets in where the needs of the family are not being met. Codependency is one of the results of this type of imbalance and can be found in many types of relationships (parent/child, husband/wife, etc).
Different roles are played within a codependent relationship: the addict is the one with the problem, the one out of control, the one draining the family physically, emotionally, spiritually, materially, etc. The loved one of the addict assumes the role of caregiver, controlling interest, and responsible adult. Oftentimes, the loved ones are struggling with the same underlying conditions of fear, guilt, low self-esteem and shame.
In John Bradshaw’s book Healing the Shame that Binds You, he demonstrates that toxic shame is the core component of our compulsions including, codependency, lying, addiction, and the drive to perfectionism. This toxic shame, most often experienced in childhood, results in the breakdown of our self-esteem, the destruction of the family system, and an inability to move forward and form lasting intimate relationships in our lives. When you take the substance away from a substance abuser, many of negative feelings, beliefs and behaviors remain for both the addict and their loved ones. For sobriety to be successful and the family to be restored, all need help to heal from the effects of addiction. At Renaissance Recovery, we assist family members in identifying shame issues and ultimately finding resolution.
12 Step Solutions
The main reason we incorporate principles of the 12 step program is that it addresses many dimensions of the addiction dynamic simultaneously, incorporating elements that heal issues of the mind, body, soul and social aspects of the disease. This applies to family treatment as well.
While we utilize many other methods for family therapy, the 12 step program offers effective principles and resources to promote family recovery.
Al-Anon family groups are an international “fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics/addicts who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.” They “help families of alcoholics by practicing the 12 Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.” It is important that family members find an Al-Anon group to join and participate regularly.
Bill Wilson was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. His wife Lois explains why, as the spouse of an alcoholic, she also required treatment:
After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill’s sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with “Damn your old meetings!” and threw a shoe as hard as I could.
This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. … My life’s purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. … I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. … We began to learn that … the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program.
Renaissance Recovery Center operates under the guiding principle that the family is central to God’s plan of happiness. Healing the family is crucial to the long term success of the addict and the happiness of everyone involved.
Our program offers:
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- Family workshops
What to do, and where to go for help can be difficult questions to answer. Renaissance Recovery Center is committed to finding the best help available for addicts and their families. We will work for you to find the resources which best meet your needs. Assessments and referrals are provided at no charge. Contact us today for more information on how we can help your family heal.