Dealing With Addiction

There are many relationships that on the brink of divorce, because of addiction.  Over the years,  I have dealt with people who are suffering from addiction to: pornography, internet,  alcohol, drugs, shopping, and even gambling.  Unless the addiction is stopped the relationship will be destroyed and  families will be broken up.

Three Steps to Dealing With Addiction

First, I will help you (the person who is exploring the addiction question) understand what is going on emotionally.  Often times, addictive behavior is a reaction to stress, anxiety, hopelessness or even depression.

Second, we will take a look at the impact of the addiction on the person’s partner.

Third, together we will develop practical strategies of getting past the addiction and having a normal productive happy life.

We will do our counseling either individually, as a couple or a combination of both approaches.  Together we will determine which will be the most effective in your particular situation

If you would like more information give me a call at 1-888-281-5850.  Phone coaching is also available to folks unable to see me at my office.   Ask me about the for folks who are having economic challenges ask me about the  $95  Introductory session

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Here is an article that will relate to the partner of someone who is addicted.  (Are you Co-Dependent?)

Regardless of whether or not it is alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or the Internet,it is hard to have a partner that is an addict. Addiction affects personal relationships, communication, parenting, finances and work life

Oftentimes, a non-addict believes that this problem is best resolved by getting his/her partner to admit and deal with the addiction and participate in therapy (Information on non-traditional treatment for addictions is available at DrMartyTashman.com). A bigger challenge however, is for the non-addict to think about ones own needs and behavior. It is important that the non-addicted partner consider these questions:

  • What do you want and need from this relationship?
  • How do you need to be treated?
  • Am I being a good partner by being supportive (but not enabling) and understanding (but not rationalizing)?
  • What am I going to do that is not dependant on my partner’s behavior?

Co-dependency – A Challenge for the Partners of Addicts

Melodie Beattie , a prominent expert in the field who has popularized the term “co-dependent” defines the term as a n on-addicted partner who is waiting for a significant other to change. Co-dependency occurs when an individual allows him/herself to be controlled by someone else’s behavior. For example, the co-dependent person often thinks:

  • “What can I do?” “Joe is a gambler and I can’t get my life straight until he does something about his gambling” or
  • “Mary is an alcoholic and she has to get treatment because she is ruining our family.”

The first step therefore, is for the non-addicted partner to assess whether or not co-dependency is an issue. Below are 26 symptoms of co-dependency.

Symptoms of Co-dependency

  1. Inability to identify what is “normal” in a relationship.
  2. Difficulty in following through on a project.
  3. Difficulty having fun.
  4. Judging self and others without mercy.
  5. Projecting low self-esteem onto others. (e.g., why don’t they get their act together?)
  6. Difficulty in developing or sustaining meaningful relationships.
  7. Overreacting to change (intense fear of, or inability to deal with, change).
  8. Inability to see alternatives to situations and therefore responding very impulsively.
  9. Constantly seeking approval and affirmation, yet having to compromise one’s sense of self.
  10. Experiencing feelings of being different.
  11. Experiencing confusion and a sense of inadequacy.
  12. Being either ultra responsible or ultra irresponsible (or alternating between these).
  13. Lacking in self confidence when making decisions and having no sense of power in making choices.
  14. Denying a feeling of fear, insecurity, inadequacy, guilt, hurt, or shame.
  15. Isolating oneself and fearing and/or resenting authority figures.
  16. Fearing anger or bottling it up until it explodes.
  17. Being hypersensitive to criticism.
  18. Being addicted to excitement or drama and creating chaos.
  19. Being dependent on others and fearing abandonment.
  20. Avoiding relationships in order to guard against fears of abandonment.
  21. Lacking the ability to differentiate between love and pity.
  22. Having a tendency to look for “victims” to help.
  23. Being rigid and needing to control.
  24. Lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  25. Believing that others cause or are responsible for, one’s emotions.
  26. Having rescue fantasies.

Conclusion – What to do next

Anyone in a relationship with a partner who is suffering from an addiction must be sure to take care of oneself and in particular, protect the children involved. Listed below are a number of suggestions and resources that can provide information and support to anyone experiencing the difficulties of dealing with an addicted partner.

  1. Review the website MarriagePartner.com which offers a message board where people talk about the issues they face in dealing with a difficult partner.
  2. Locate a self-help group at SelfHelpGroups.org, a self-help clearing house for groups across the country. One self-help group that deals with the issue of co-dependency is Co-Dependents Anonymous, or coDA.
  3. Seek professional counseling. Marriage and family therapists with background and training in dealing with substance abuse and other addictions oftentimes can be a good choice. They not only understand addictions, but also the dynamics of relationships and family interactions.

Waiting for an addicted partner to change is an invitation for disaster and the longer one waits, the worse things will get and the harder it will be to deal with all of the issues. Instead, the non-addicted partner should take the first step and not wait for the addict to take care of him/herself.