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Supportive vs. Co-dependent

Old 05-04-2009, 11:04 AM
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Supportive vs. Co-dependent

Hi all,

I had posted on the "Friends & Family" section last week, but I am finding a lot of negativity and hopelessness and I thought maybe I would try over here

Last week my husband started on taking Suboxon. He started occasionally snorting heroin in October after having lost his job of 7 years (job loss was not in any way connected to drug use.) It gradually progressed, and became a daily $100 habit throughout the month of April. He has been on the Suboxon for a week and says he feels really great. I am trying to be positive and supportive (we have two young children with whom I stay at home, so I cannot afford to fall apart myself.)

My problem is, without wanting to bash anyone or anything, that we are not into this whole "turning your life over to a Higher Power" thing. We're Unitarians and believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, whatever their problems or issues, and personally we belive in being responsible for one's own actions. All the replies I have been getting on the "F&F" seem to be telling me "Hands off the addict- worry about yourself - make a plan for getting out - it will definitely get worse - he's not the man you married - blah blah blah." I understand that people are trying to be helpful, or think they are, but I don't intend to bail on my husband. Whatever his sicknesses, he IS the man I married, and I think he's doing a great job trying to work on this, and I think that planning an escape would serve no purpose other than to undermine my and his belief in his ability to overcome this. I am NOT "co-dependent" because I love my husband and want to help him work through a very difficult time. Does anyone else feel this way?
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:18 AM
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Thanks for your post Daisy.
Most of us here are on the other side of the fence being the substance abusers.
I quit drinking and came here because my wife gave me an ultimatum and I don't plan on ever drinking again.
Our relationship is improving and I am really glad that my wife did not get the advice to get rid of me and I am pretty sure that she is also glad about this although I would never speak for her but it appears that way.
I am glad that you are trying to improve your relationship for his sake, your sake, and the sake of your children.
I am sure that you are aware that children thrive better in families that have both their mothers and fathers living with them if it is in a healthy loving family relationship and that this is what you are trying to make happen.
Have faith in your husband but do keep making him responsible for his recovery.
I wish you all the best and I honestly think you are on the right path.
Good luck.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:34 AM
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I'm a pretty firm believer in "what ever works" for each person. I semi married to a guy whose drinking got to the point where it really grossed me out. At the same time, I have been drinking since I was 14, every day (except when preggers or nursing) for 28 years. I quit without the 12 steps or higher power stuff, although I promised myself at the time, if it didn't work my way I would try AA. He quit when I did, 4+ months ago.

That being said, he is a great guy and I wish him success in finding a healthier way to live, but there are under lying issues he needs to figure out that I can't really help him with. I have been doing tons of work through the "codependency" school of thought. I don't like definitions, I do know that I had some seriously whacked out ways of thinking about myself, and that codie train of thought is helping me find my way back to me.

For me, being codependent has nothing to do with him, or my kids, or my parents, it has to do with finding MY inner strength and peace, so that I can be content. If it ends up with him, all the better~ But if he doesn't fix his sh!t, I am trying to fix myself so I can be independently ok.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:02 PM
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Not sure what to say by way of reply, except everything I've read in the F&F section has been true, in my experience, and I have the advantage of coming from both places, addiction and codependency.

"personally we belive in being responsible for one's own actions"

As do the folks in the F&F section, we also firmly believe in letting the A's in our lives be responsible for their actions-their choices.

Anything we do to allow the A to escape the consequences of their choices is codependency.

And none of this has anything to do with spiritual/religious beliefs, if you want to get strictly secular this is just psychology.

I think, just like the A's in our lives, we have to learn the lessons ourselves.

Good luck.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for your viewpoint, Sailorjohn. The point I was trying to make (but I guess I didn't do it very well) was that despite his problems, my husband is not some different being, "The Addict". He is still himself, just himself with some problems. Big ones to be sure, but it doesn't make him some evil creature that I need to flee from. It makes him human, just like the rest of us. I know there are many times in my life when I would not have been able to pull through without the help and support of loved ones, including my husband. This whole "hands off the addict" thing makes no sense to me.

"Anything we do to allow the A to escape the consequences of their choices is codependency."

If my husband had no substance problem, but was depressed and "chose" to try to slit his wrists, I would call him an ambulance. This would allow him to escape the consequences of his actions, yes, but it would also save his life. Would this be co-dependency? By some definitions, yes. I would call it helping save the life of a loved one. So I guess we will have to agree to disagree about the co-dependency thing.

Respectfully,
Daisy
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:41 PM
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A better analogy, for me anyways. Someone I love is drowning, we're at a remote lake with no other help available. I throw them a ring with a line attached and tell them to grab it, I'll pull you in. The ring is almost within their grasp, maybe 10 feet away. They can reach that ring, if they try. They refuse, telling me that they want me to swim them back to safety.

Problem is, when I get there they thrash about in a panic, now they're pulling me down also, I swallow a lot of water for what seems like an extended period, I'm drowning with them, it takes a while to extricate myself.

I get back to shore, exhausted. Meanwhile, they're still out there thrashing about, they keep going under, clearly drowning. I offer to throw the ring out again, they plead that they can't do it, they need me to swim back out.

This analogy works for me as I'm a terrible swimmer-and a smoker, which doesn't help.

My choice, watch them drown, drown with them, or walk away. Possibly if I do walk away they'll make an effort to grab the ring, and pull themselves in, realizing that the responsibility for saving themselves is theirs alone.

The only choice we have as codependents is whether we want to contribute to their problem.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:43 PM
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Daisy, my opinion is that you take what works for you. If you can't accept certain ideas, you'll have a very very difficult time making those ideas work for you.
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:17 PM
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I agree with poppy. Daisy do what works for you. I don't think being supportive of someone is being co-dependent at all and besides don't marriage vows say something like "for better or worse"??? Now if the husband was destroying your life and your family's because of his addiction and you stuck with him and supported him then maybe thats co-dependent but it sounds like he went through a bad time for whatever reason and he's working to get his life back on track.

Judy
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:45 PM
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Glad to see you wandered over here Daisy

Although I have never been in your position, and never will be (as far as I know), just from my own experiences with my dad, I would say you're not being codependent at all. There is a fine line between codependent and loving.. You are loving and being supportive in his recovery which is great! If he turns back to drugs though and you are still able to say "I love you for what you are right now, no matter what happens" that's where you're teeter-tottering between being supportive and codependency. That's where the enabling comes into play and all that stuff that I'm sure you've heard a crap load about already. I think addicts need to realize when to stop on their own otherwise they will always relapse..they need to know the concept of getting clean for themselves rather than getting clean for the sake of others. Sorry if that seemed negative, it was just my opinion. I'm certainly not saying that he cannot recover. Keep hope

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Old 05-04-2009, 06:06 PM
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Hi Daisy09 and welcome to Secular Connections.

I would guess that having two people working towards a common goal can be done safely. So long as there is honesty and some treatment plan under the guidance of a therapist to follow.
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Old 05-04-2009, 06:22 PM
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Welcome, Daisy.

I've been on both sides of relationships involving drug use-- involved with an addict and later as an addict myself. I was also raised Quaker... not exactly the same as the Unitarians but of a similar bent, generally.

You are welcome to post here in SC, as far as I'm concerned. F&F feedback comes from what I have lived: it's awfully hard not to be dragged down by an addict. I ended up with my very own alcohol and meth addictions because I couldn't let go of an addict boyfriend; I got pulled into this world along with him. It doesn't have to be that way, but I think it will be a bumpy ride for you. Heck, it already is!

Not sure I can offer much in the way of advice but I'm happy to offer support wherever I can. Keep on posting here, if you find it helpful.
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Old 05-04-2009, 07:01 PM
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wow Daisy...glad you posted.

I am an alchoholic and addict. I also have a brother, father (now dead), several cousins and son and a WHOLE bunch of friends who are alchohlic/addicts.

I have not chosen to ex these people out of my life. I am willing and I beleive capable of loving and enjoying these relationships.

I struggle with some of the hatred of addicts and alchoholics that i hear, even when it is coated with the disease is what we hate not the person. My disease is part of who i am..it isn't controling me at the moment, but it may at times.

I am not a different personn from who i was before i got sober...any more than anyone else is a different person from who they were 2 years ago, cause of course we are all always changing.

My son and i share a home. He is an alchoholic..curently binge drinker...still active in his alchoholism. We enjoy each other on a regular basis, have fights like many mom and kids do, and we have some guidlines that we are fairly consistant at following for when he is drinking.

Most people seem to be horrified by the choices I have made in living with my son in his addiction, but honestly other than the fact that I have issues with wanting to people please and therefore worry about what other people think...i am content to happy 95% of the time with our relationship. The 5% i am not...well there isn't any violence...and if that changes then the relationship may have to change as well.

It's totally my son's probelm if he gets sober or not. Yes his life effects me, that is true drunk, sober, in or out of my house.

If a person has the disease of alchoholism/addiction...it will always be true that they may drink or use again...it's just the way it is. But jeeeez....the wonderful joy and happiness that i have found in my friendships with alchoholics and addicts in and out of recovery! I intend to continue to reap the wonders of opening my heart to others...I've exed people out of my life before on the basis of one aspect of them that they had no control over and it didn't work out very well for me. I am hesitant to go down that road again.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:20 PM
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Ananda, thank you for your post. It made me think, which is always a good thing

With my family member it came to a point where it was bad 95 percent of the time. I lived through several "accidental" overdoses. At least one was on purpose. I lived through having to call the police when my family member was in dirty diapers after refusing to get treatment for a broken hip after falling during an OD. Trust me, it sucks to have to call the police to do a welfare check on your own mother. The good part was, once they saw her pill bottles, they didn't question why I was not "rescuing" her.

I lived with my grandfather having to wake her every morning by shoving her to get her out of her intoxicated state. Once her father took ill, guess who was responsible for him? It sure wasn't her. She was too busy writing checks on his account and refusing to let him move back in the home they shared. It was at this point he adopted my best friend and sister so that she had the legal right to control his finances and health when I was in class.

Once he died, I lived with fear of the phone ringing every day in case she died, and having to deal with her weekly "live and death" emergencies that weren't emergencies at all. Finally, I had enough. I was living in emotional hell.

Through working a secular program I realized that I didn't have to live like this. No one was making me live in this fear and stress but myself. I had the right to let go and live my own life. I didn't have to live like this. I could choose to live my own life and not live in her constant fear and drama.

Now, she doesn't have my phone number, and she writes me. Its nice because I can simply put the letters aside until I am able to read them. If I want, I can throw them away. Once, I shredded the unopened envelope. I wasn't up to the drama.

Wow, the freedom is nice. In fact, the freedom from her drama and addiction is as nice as my freedom from abusing my medication.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:29 PM
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Daisy -

My husband is a recovering crack addict, and although we spent some time separated, we are still married and living together. I like to think I am now supportive without being co-dependent, but that wasn't always the case. I had to learn a lot about what co-dependency was, how I was enabling him, and what I was getting out of our (at the time) crappy relationship by sticking around. And I had to learn how to detach from his addiction - I'm still learning that part.

If you think you are being supportive, that he is on a real road to recovery and that things are looking up, then what does it matter what strangers on the internet think? I'm curious to know what your real question is, because I don't think it was the yes-or-no question you posed at the end. If you're asking if people do recover, and if marriages can withstand addiction with recovery, then yes, it is possible, but it isn't easy.

Snorting heroin isn't like having a couple of Twinkies on the sly. I suspect that your husband has done some things that he isn't proud of, things that may or may not come to light as time goes on. Perhaps there are things about his addiction that you don't know yet. More will be revealed, and only you can determine what is acceptable to you. I hope you never have to know how lousy it feels to be hopeless. Good luck.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:32 PM
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Welcome Daisy! I’m sorry to see you facing this problem.

Some recovery specialists say that it takes a shock incident to motivate an addicted person to quit. Maybe a car accident, a medical diagnosis or an ultimatum offered by a loved one. It does not have to be the addict’s own inspiration for recovery to begin.

Having said that, the decision to quit is a personal choice, and no matter how much you might want to persuade another person to give up an addiction, or even perceive it as undesirable, ultimately, it is not your choice.

I also believe that opiate addiction is a powerful addiction. This may be a long process for both of you, and it may contain episodes of relapse and multiple attempts at recovery.

Grappling with the dilemma of whether you are being supportive or codependent is seeing things the wrong way. If you react with consequences that are too severe, it will just drive a wedge between you, and treating the addiction lightly may lead him to believe that it’s no big deal. After that consideration, it’s all psychobabble, in my opinion.

I think that you made a good move coming to this section of the website because no one treatment program works for everyone. I also think that treatment needs to be available, it needs to be long enough to change habits and make the lifestyle stick. Further, I’m convinced that individual counseling or group support is important. Rational Recovery dismisses counseling and group support; I disagree.

I have made the decision to quit, and it came largely from looking at all of the negative attributes of my addictive behavior, including the possible health consequences, the damage that it does to loving relationships, and the impaired performance at work and driving a car. I then realized how much happier I feel when I am clean and sober, if for no other reason than the fact that I am clean and sober.

It all starts with a decision. He needs to decide.

Secular recovery programs:


LifeRing LifeRing Home Page
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy REBT Network: Albert Ellis | Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
SMART SMART RecoveryŽ | Help with Alcohol, Drug, and Other Addictions
SOS S.O.S. Secular Organizations for Sobriety
12Steps

Drug Addiction Treatment Resources

National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction

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Old 05-04-2009, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lyssabee View Post
Daisy -

My husband is a recovering crack addict, and although we spent some time separated, we are still married and living together. I like to think I am now supportive without being co-dependent, but that wasn't always the case. I had to learn a lot about what co-dependency was, how I was enabling him, and what I was getting out of our (at the time) crappy relationship by sticking around. And I had to learn how to detach from his addiction - I'm still learning that part.

If you think you are being supportive, that he is on a real road to recovery and that things are looking up, then what does it matter what strangers on the internet think? I'm curious to know what your real question is, because I don't think it was the yes-or-no question you posed at the end. If you're asking if people do recover, and if marriages can withstand addiction with recovery, then yes, it is possible, but it isn't easy.

Snorting heroin isn't like having a couple of Twinkies on the sly. I suspect that your husband has done some things that he isn't proud of, things that may or may not come to light as time goes on. Perhaps there are things about his addiction that you don't know yet. More will be revealed, and only you can determine what is acceptable to you. I hope you never have to know how lousy it feels to be hopeless. Good luck.
Very powerful post for me, thank you
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by lyssabee View Post

If you think you are being supportive, that he is on a real road to recovery and that things are looking up, then what does it matter what strangers on the internet think? I'm curious to know what your real question is, because I don't think it was the yes-or-no question you posed at the end. If you're asking if people do recover, and if marriages can withstand addiction with recovery, then yes, it is possible, but it isn't easy.

Thank you to everyone for your kind messages and words of support, and especially this post, which made me think about why did I come on-line? You know, when you have no experience with something like this, you have this image in your head of "a junkie" - the kind you see in movies and such: dirty, toothless, living in cardboard boxes talking to themselves. And then I find out that my own husband, who I have loved for 16 years, is addicted to heroin. We also have two sweet, loving, beautiful little girls who love (and are loved by) their Daddy very much. I cannot imagine what it would be like for them to live without their Daddy.

So I guess I came here hoping to find out two things:

1. that there are other perfectly "normal" people who have problems like this in their lives.

2. that it is not going to destroy my husband's shot at recovery for me to be supportive and loving instead of cutting myself off from him to avoid being hurt.

I have found out that these things both seem to be true, and I really want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for sharing their stories of pain and love with me. My husband told me about his addiction on the day he started Suboxon, so it was entirely his own decision to quit. I'm feeling hopeful at the moment, and want to thank you for helping me, a complete stranger, to deal with our situation.

Wishing you all happiness,
Daisy
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Daisy09 View Post
2. that it is not going to destroy my husband's shot at recovery for me to be supportive and loving instead of cutting myself off from him to avoid being hurt.


I can't answer that question, but I can talk about my experience.

I'm a drinker and I've been living with my parents for two years now in order to sober up. I think I have 5 or 6 weeks sober right now after yet another relapse (that lasted about 2.5 weeks). I had 80 days sober before that, the longest I've had.

If my parents had not put up with me, not supported me, I'd probably be dead now because I have nowhere else to go. They know I have mental problems and they are being very patient.

I'm getting therapy now...actually I'm leaving in a few minutes to go to my session.

I am ever grateful for my family.



I know I don't know much about anything, but whatever you do, Daisy, it would probably be a good idea to define what your boundries are. You can be supportive, but please take care of yourself.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:33 AM
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yeah i was thinking...thats the tricky part..how do you recognize when the balance has flipped...when the time has come to say enough is enough?

I've had that happen in one of my relationships lately and it wasn't too hard a call and i didn't do to too badly at getting out and staying out...a few bumps yet...but

MMM....just something to think about...
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ananda View Post

I struggle with some of the hatred of addicts and alchoholics that i hear, even when it is coated with the disease is what we hate not the person. My disease is part of who i am..it isn't controling me at the moment, but it may at times.

I am not a different personn from who i was before i got sober...any more than anyone else is a different person from who they were 2 years ago, cause of course we are all always changing.
Thanks Ananda! This is exactly why I came over here - references to my husband as "The Addict" or "Addict-husband" were driving me nuts. It seems like some people objectify a person in addiction. Maybe it make it easier for some people to deal with it that way, seperating the person from the addiction, I don't know, but it really bothered me. He, like you, is not a different person now, he is himself, with a problem.
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