9 Paths to Co-Addiction

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9 Paths to Co-Addiction

Codependency lives with addiction.”
This is a phrase that people who are, or have been, involved in addiction recovery treatment know all too well. Codependency is the number one enabler of addiction and very often tears families to shreds.

Addicts lost in their addiction feel hopeless, helpless, and actively in despair. More often than not, the people who love them aren’t much better off. The healing begins with each individual.

Work on addiction, individual, and “us” issues separately and actively for the long-term.

Co-Addiction is a byproduct of codependent relationships. Co-addictive relationships cause dishonesty, loss of self-esteem, & betrayal, among other things. Although it is not talked about as much as codependency, it is a common condition that close friends and family members experience when living with a loved one who is suffering from addiction.

It is hard often hard to admit it, but the addict is not the only one with the problem. Addiction is a family disease that affects everyone involved - even the sober members.

Simply getting off of drugs does not support long-term recovery goals. The addict AND his/her family need to change their thoughts, and behaviors to support healthy interactions that support long-term change and prosperity for all parties involved.

There a 9 prevalent paths that lead relationships into the murky waters of Co-addiction. As your loved one recovers in treatment, it is important that you learn to identify and change the 9 things that may continue to wreak havoc in your lives.

1. Collusion (working together)
The acts of others that assist the addict in avoiding the natural, negative consequences of their use.

2. Obsessive Preoccupation (worried, fearful, resentment, anger)
When you’re SO focused on someone else...that there is little or nothing else that gets attention in your life.

3. Denial
The inability to admit or accept the reality of a situation.

4. Emotional Turmoil (shame, guilt, isolation, despair)
When you try to change things that are not within your own control, it is common to experience panic, confusion, and ongoing crisis.

5. Manipulation
Minimizing and blaming in order to take the focus off of your own behavior, in order to seek your own specifically desired outcomes.

6. Excessive Responsibility
Taking responsibility for things that are not yours to account for.

7. Compromise or Loss of Self
Healthy relationships are a two way street of the commitment, actions, and shared responsibilities of two separate individuals. Long-term codependency often leaves individuals with a diminished sense of personal identity and self-esteem.

8. Blame and Punishment
Casting blame and levying punishments continue the dysfunctional cycles of manipulation and denial and are intended to inflict emotional harm in order to change someone’s behavior.

9. Reactivity
When you’re feeling a rush of emotions, you are not able to think clearly. Reactivity is the automatic responses that you’ve learned to display during the drama of addiction.


As you grow and change on your own journey toward recovery, you will learn that “Love” is not a feeling - it is action and commitment. Expression of anger & sadness is necessary for rebuilding relationships affected by addiction, but first, you will need to identify your own areas for improvement. Honesty and disclosure can lead to deeper intimacy. And in recovery, there are no more Secrets.

Changes are scary and everyone needs help. Treatment is a spiritual process of not giving in to self-will.

Recovery IS Possible.

Meg Glidden

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