Codependency is a major issue that can prolong an individual’s addiction. In short, codependency occurs when two individuals — typically family members or people in some other type of intimate relationship — are in a relationship in which both parties have developed an unhealthy level of dependence on one another. In cases of addiction, codependency usually means that the addict depends on a loved one to provide money, a place to live, and protection from legal repercussions relating to his or her substance abuse while the addict ensures that he or she won’t abandon or reject the loved one. This is also called enabling as the codependency enables the addict to continue his or her substance abuse.
Moreover, the loved one also serves as a buffer between the addict and the consequences of his or her actions, which allows the addict to continue to abuse alcohol or drugs while being free from having to deal with the negative outcomes of the behavior. As such, family therapy provides the family with a way to identify and address codependency within the family unit, helping the family to learn ways to overcome codependency and maintain healthy relationships with the addict as he or she progresses in recovery.
At Serene Beginnings, family therapy for addiction can also serve as the means with which many unknown issues or issues that family members may not have realized were present, are made known and addressed. For instance, maybe the addict or even other members of a family have mental or emotional problems that might have had some negative effect on the addict’s substance abuse. This is also a way for each family member to learn how to express their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and beliefs in a respectful yet assertive way without defaulting to aggression. Alternately, there are also instances when an addict’s family members might be addicts themselves, which is another important issue to be addressed in family therapy as it would likely have had a major effect on the addict or even impede his or her recovery.