Dependency (alcoholism and drug addiction) is the compulsively
repeated alteration of brain chemistry by means of a toxin in order to
produce temporary relief from frustration, grief, or pain quickly
without changing the thoughts or behavior that cause these negative
dependency is a treatable disease that can be held in remission
through a basic lifestyle change. There is no known cure. The tendency
to relapse is always present. The degree of dependency on chemicals
always increases, even when the person is not using. If allowed to
progress, the disease is fatal. Chemically dependent people typically
have low self-esteem, poor coping skills, poor social skills, and come
from abusive, chemically dependent, and dysfunctional family systems.
They appear to be bored, confused, lonely, depressed, and angry.
Although they feel guilty about their loss of control over their using
and their behavior, thoughts, and feelings, they tend to blame others
or external circumstances, and deny that they have a problem.
for chemical dependency educates the person that it is their
biochemical reaction to the toxins which causes the loss of control,
similar to an allergy. Emphasis is placed on rebuilding self-esteem,
increasing awareness of feelings, and making lifestyle changes to
obtain a more lasting and more satisfying happiness without chemicals.
The most important message of treatment is the comfort and safety felt
within a group of people who share in the same struggle.
you are concerned about a person who is still actively using
chemicals, contact a local
treatment center and ask them about organizing an intervention. You,
by yourself, cannot influence the course of their disease by giving
them information. For more information about detaching from the addict.
Dependency: Whose Problem?
there an addictive personality?
has found no such thing. A mixture of factors push users to
the drug itself: a fast, intense euphoria followed by withdrawal
symptoms or depression. The most addictive drugs are crack cocaine,
meth-amphetamine, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, PCP, and nicotine;
the body: a genetic predisposition, chronic pain, individual drug
the mind: uninhibited, lack of values, lack of self-esteem, easily
frustrated or depressed;
the setting: a barren environment, isolation, using friends, lack of
dependency on alcohol and other drugs is a chronic, progressive,
incurable, and treatable nuerochemical disease characterized by
increased tolerance, compulsive using in spite of negative
consequences, relapse, and death. It can be stimulated by prolonged
dependency damages the nervous system, making a person more reactive.
They will protect themselves from the realization of their dependency,
their painful feelings, and their anxieties by becoming hostile,
blaming, minimizing, rationalizing, changing the subject, and using
it feels to be chemically dependent.
abuse is a seeking for help, comfort, and meaning, for relief from
anger, loneliness, and apathy.
educates the person that its their biochemical reaction to the
drugs/alcohol which causes their loss of control, similar to an
allergy. Emphasis is placed on rebuilding self-esteem, increasing
awareness of feelings, and making lifestyle changes to produce a
satisfying level of happiness without chemicals. Through group
experiences, the chemically dependent learns the comfort and safety
available from others who share the same struggle.
If you are concerned about a person who is
still actively using chemicals,
please read the following
e-mail exchange which I have repeated many times with countless
concerned friends and family members of addicts and alcoholics:
have a 19-year-old who is having real problems with alcohol, and it
is causing the family real problems. I just need to get him to admit
that he has a drinking problem.
will need more than your personal persuasion, I think, to convince a
teen that they will not survive the disease. Consult with a local
treatment agency or counselor about doing an organized group
do not just quit on their own, just because it seems to be a
"good idea" suggested to them by a friend. They do not
have the willpower, in fact willpower has nothing to do with it. The
alcoholic may want to quit drinking with all his heart, and be
completely powerless when in the presence of alcohol, and the
tolerance that builds to alcohol always means that the desire to
drink more will increase. It is a downward spiral.
his friend, you need to understand his disease and your
co-dependency so that you can help him, with detachment. (More about
your son needs is treatment that is educational and emotionally
supportive, followed by a radical change in his lifestyle and the
permanent, lifetime follow-up support of Alcoholics Anonymous. To
get started on this path takes an enormous leap of faith and alot of
courage. Some people are lucky enough to be forced into it by the
courts, threat of divorce, loss of a job, or a near-death trip to
the hospital or psycho ward. This is called "hitting
an orchestrated push from a large group of his family, friends,
employer, doctor--- which is called an intervention-- can force an
artificial "bottom," and is best conducted with
professional help. Some employers with a drug/alcohol policy in
effect will have ready-made channels of assistance.
an intervention, the group of concerned friends and family will meet
with the counselor and carefully rehearse what they have to say to
the alcoholic or addict. They focus on how the chemical dependency
has affected them and how they feel about it, and avoid attacks on
the person, their character or morals. They make arrangements for
treatment, and then pick the best time for a surprise confrontation
of the addict/alcoholic. The larger the group, the more powerful is
the statement, "We want you to get well!"
not attempt an intervention on your own, you will only build
resistance and lose a friend. A professionally-done intervention is
usually very painful to the alcoholic because the denial is stripped
away. The alcoholic feels very naked and vulnerable, and may try to
defend themselves with extreme anger, or-- we hope-- will ask for
help. A few rare alcoholics, after hitting a self-made
"bottom," will seek out AA without intervention and
treatment, and begin their recovery in AA with a sponsor. However,
those who do so have to make that decision on their own.
strongly suggest you avail yourself of the help of a local chemical
wishes for your sons recovery,
chemically dependent person cant ask for help, they are too afraid:
"I need help, but you might reject me because I have hurt you
feelings. Besides, its my problem, not yours."
enabler cant offer help, they are afraid also: "I know you need
help, but you might reject me, or I might hurt your feelings. Besides,
its not my problem, its yours."
shame, guilt, anger, confusion, and denial are common symptoms for
both the chemically dependent person and the enablers.
is the unconscious allowing of the illness to continue by taking care
of the addict and helping them avoid the pain and consequences of
their behavior. This is done by family, friends, employers,
co-workers, the legal system, and the media. Many enablers are also
is a chronic attempt to please or manipulate others, in order to
create a self-esteem based on "doing good." This identity is
false, unhealthy, and becomes progressively death-oriented. This
disease is typical of family members of alcoholic/addicts or children
of emotionally repressive parents. The family rules are "Dont
talk, dont trust, dont feel."
communication by making attempts to understand the alcoholic/addict as
unusual but normal. There is some excuse, underlying problem, or
stereotype which explains their use of chemicals. The enabler may
evaluate, diagnose, label, blame. Feelings are avoided.
needs to blow off steam. He has problems at work (or home)."
"Lots of people were loaded at that party."
dwell on the past? It would only be upsetting."
just going through a phase."
problems of the addict are ignored and focus is shifted to the
enablers inadequacies. The enabler becomes mired in their hurt
feelings and guilt.
you cared about me half as much as you care about your friends, maybe
I wouldnt want to drink so much."
enough to drive anyone to drink."
youd shape up, Id be all right."
enabler withdraws all feedback or contact, represses feelings, keeps
the alcoholic/addicts problems secret.
what he did last night, lets just not invite him any more."
just doesnt seem to belong in this department; Ill transfer her to
isnt as reliable as she used to be. I dont think we should ask her
to be on our committee."
avoid a deepening depression, the enabler reacts, tries to manipulate
social events, assumes extra responsibilities, directly controls the
chemicals availability, invades the alcoholic/addicts privacy,
lectures, problem-solves, argues, questions, threatens, begs,
commands, consoles, or gives up and joins in the consumption of
education and lightening of the load of the enabler begins in a crisis
or through a professional intervention. The recognition of the tacit care taking
role allows the enabler the freedom to step out of it. Strong feelings
usually accompany recognition of this longstanding role:
of betrayal, and loss of the alcoholic/addict, especially if they
are in treatment, on their own independent path to recovery and no
longer in need of the enablers care taking.
at the chemically dependent person and at one-self for allowing the care taking
and shock over the loss of control, the downward spiral of the
disease, the loss of self-esteem, the isolation.
over the need for the enabler to change their own behavior also, not
just the alcoholic/addict.
payoff is a return to healthy self-esteem, expression of
long-repressed emotions, and a relief from the burden of
responsibility. The enabler needs to develop a faith in the therapeutic
value of the natural course of events, re-establish a basic trust in themselves
and their life process.
groups for family/friends of alcoholics/addicts.
and friends of recovering addicts need to be recovering from their
enabling and co-dependency, or else they will inadvertently support
the relapse of the addict, and perpetuate their own negative,
self-destructive emotions. If you think you may be co-dependent or
enabling someone, it is important to take action to help yourself NOW,
and to not think about it, analyze it, or wonder about it. Just do it!
Usually, your local phone directory will have numbers for these
groups, or your local Alcoholics Anonymous group will have them. Some
have online links.
Family Groups, Inc. World Service Headquarters
International. 32000+ groups. Founded 1951. Fellowship of men,
women, children and adult children whose lives have been
affected by the compulsive drinking of a family member or
friend. Opportunity to grow through living by the 12-Steps
adopted from Alcoholics Anonymous. Guidelines for starting
groups. Literatures available in languages. Contact: Al-Anon
Family Groups, 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach,
VA 23456; phone: 804-563-1600. Call (212)302-7240 or
800-344-2666 (meeting information) or
800-356-9996 (general information); FAX: (212)869-3757.
International. Founded 1967. World-wide organization offering
self-help recovery to families and friends of addicts. A 12-Step
program structured like Al-Anon. Provides group packet for
starting new groups. Write: Nar-Anon Family Group Headquarters,
P.O. Box 2562, Palos Verdes, CA 90274-0119. Call (310)547-5800.
International. 3900+ groups worldwide. Founded 1986. 12- Step
self-help program of recovery from co-dependence, where each of
us may share our experience, strength, and hope in our efforts
to find freedom and peace in our relationships with ourselves
and others. Newsletter ($8/yr). Library of literature and audio
tapes. Contact: Co-D.A., P.O. Box 33577, Phoenix, AZ 85067-3577.
has a variety of links, including live chat rooms for Al-Anon, CoDA.
However, you do need IRC software, and they provide help in
obtaining it from an online source.
Melody, Co-Dependent No More, Beyond
Codependency, Codependents Guide to the Twelve Steps
Claudia, It Will Never Happen to Me
John, Bradshaw on: The Family
Sharon, Another Chance, Choice-Making
Janet, Adult Children of Alcoholics
would also recommend a very good workbook that
is best used in a small, committed group of trusting friends: The
12 Steps, A Way Out: A Spiritual Process for Healing Damaged Emotions,
RPI Publishing, Julian, CA, (619) 765-2703, ISBN
I intended that professionals in the treatment field and persons
wondering about their co-dependency may find and copy something on my
site that furthers their work in recovery. This document is not
copyrighted, you may copy it freely.