Family Counseling and Codependency

Benjamin Brafman
January 15, 2013 — 2,156 views  
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Family counseling can plan a significant role in an individual's recovery. Whether that individual is a parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent, her loved ones are likely to feel the impact of the substance abuse. Family counseling can help families heal the wounds of substance abuse, like anger, frustration and pain, as well as other issues that commonly affect families like codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a complex behavior pattern that can affect anyone close to someone suffering from substance abuse. Some call it relationship addiction, where one loved one becomes addicted to helping someone who is suffering. People dealing with codependency form relationships that are one-sided and can be emotionally destructive or even abusive. They often don't even realize what has happened. Family counseling can help them to see what has happened and break the cycle of behavior so that everyone can recover.

How Does Codependency Happen?

Families of loved ones suffering from substance abuse often feel fear, anger, pain or shame. Sometimes they push these feelings aside as a family and as individuals, pretending that these problems don't exist so they can cope with the problems or issues related to substance abuse. The focus on the person suffering from substance abuse can cause family members and loved ones to sacrifice their own feelings and emotions to protect the health and safety of the individual suffering from substance abuse.

Codependency often happens as a result of good intentions. In helping to care for their loved one, a person becomes compulsive and obsessive about the caretaking. A sibling may cover for another; a parent may make excuses for a child or a spouse for their partner. Unfortunately these excuses or rescue attempts allow a person to continue making destructive choices and continue the cycle of destruction. The relationship becomes one sided, a submissive situation where the abuse may unintentionally occur. Many who suffer from codependency lose their sense of worth and can turn to substance abuse themselves.
Why Family Counseling?

Family counseling professionals can make a diagnosis of codependency and help not only treat the substance abuse, but also the codependency. Codependency does not end with substance abuse. In many cases it can continue, and the behavior can be learned by others and even passed to the next generation. It is important to break the cycle of codependent behavior so that a family can heal and move on from the abuse.

It can be hard to see your family member or loved one suffer with substance abuse, but it is important to remember that you are not responsible for the choices of someone else and nor can you alone bear the responsibility of protecting them.

Benjamin Brafman