Codependency is a problem that originates a great deal within the families of drug and alcohol addicts. To become codependent, to enable, to be an enabler to people, all of these are factors and manifestations of enablement, which is a phenomena that can occur between an addict and one or more of his or her loved ones or family members.
So what exactly is codependency? Codependency occurs when an addict becomes reliant in some way on a person who helps them, and that helper also in a psychological capacity becomes reliant on the addict. This process is also called enablement. It is a psychological phenomenon in which a person cannot effectively see that in helping an addict they are actually harming them greatly. It is a situation in which a family member or loved one of an addict thinks that by helping an addicted loved one they are doing something good for them and are aiding their survival in some way when really they most definitely are not.
What a codependent enabler does not realize is that any effort they give to help an addict is just an effort that makes the addict more able to abuse drugs and alcohol. In this way, they are essentially doing something that will make the addict’s life that much easier and open doors for that addict to go on and continue to abuse drugs and alcohol. Here are some examples of this in action:
- An addict comes over to an enabler’s house (let’s say it is Mom’s house). The addict needs a place to stay for a few nights and Mom, being Mom, of course concedes, thinking that maybe the addicted son or daughter will come around while staying in Mom’s home and agree to finally go to rehab. What actually happens is that the addict gets a couple night’s good rest, and is then able to go out on a fresh start to score as much drugs as they can get.
- An addicted son appeals to Dad for some money because he is, “Short on the rent.” Dad gives him the money, because he feels that the addict not having a place to live will just make an already bad situation that much worse. Of course, the addict uses the money to buy more drugs, whether they actually need to pay rent or not. In fact, an addict puts drugs and alcohol as priority number one, and everything else, like rent and food, takes second stage.