What is co-dependency?

POSTED July 20, 2012  

Co-dependency is a concept that was first used in a Minnesota Treatment Center in 1979 for family members of alcoholics and drug addicts.  (Overcomers Outreach, Bob and Pauline Bartosch)  The definition describes people in a family relationship with an alcoholic whose lives have become unmanageable as a result of living with the alcoholic.  Melody Beattie describes a co-dependent as a person who has become hyper-focused on controlling another person’s behavior.  (CoDependent No More)

Sometimes called “caretakers” or “enablers,” co-dependent persons believe they can change a problem drinker’s behavior and make life better for all involved.  What they fail to realize is that no one can change another person; change comes from within and is accomplished by not only a desire to change, but courage do what it takes.

Alcoholism and co-dependency are diseases that affect families in fairly consistent ways.  When a family member begins abusing chemicals, spouse and children and other family members begin to cover for the drinker.  They call his/her boss and tell him/her that their drinker is sick when they actually are hung over.  When large amounts of money are spent on alcohol, the pleading and begging are dramatic, usually to no avail.  Some co-dependents have been known to drink with the alcoholic to try to keep them from consuming all the alcohol in the house.  It doesn’t work.

Children in these kinds of homes are what are called para-dependents because they are unable to leave.  Their coping behaviors can become bizarre, just to make it through the day.  They make up stories to friends to make sure they don’t visit their home and see the chaos, and they isolate and live by the motto of, “Don’t trust, don’t talk, don’t feel.”  They, along with their co-dependent, parent become frozen in time as far as emotional development.  It is only when they enter treatment and “thaw out” that they begin to grow and mature again.

There are usually many family secrets that are being kept in these families, and they have had more than their share of trauma.  Interestingly, where children are trapped and can’t leave, spouses often suffer from “learned helplessness” and choose not to leave.  It seems that the familiarity of the chaos looks better than the risk of the unknown that comes with changing.  Co-dependent persons often develop their own set of compulsive behaviors, including denial, to cope with their pain.

Seeking out a knowledgeable friend or therapist is a healthy step in finding the hope and courage to heal.  I have had many years of experience helping alcoholics and family members heal from the hurts of addiction.  Call me and let’s visit.  The first phone call or visit is free.

Secrets to couples communication

POSTED July 13, 2012  

Living with someone is not much fun if there is little meaningful communication happening.

The most important experience for most of us is feeling understood.  With understanding comes a deep sense of well-being and hope for the future.  Many couples try to get their partners to agree with them, without much success.  Agreement is not nearly as important as understanding.  Actually, there are very few human beings who agree on their favorite flavor of ice cream, vacation destination, or most effective ways of investing money.  Good thing that intimacy does not depend on agreement.

Seeking to understand your partner and feeling understood sparks feelings of intimacy and closeness like no other experience.  I have assisted numerous couples in their journey to a more meaningful relationship.  For sure there are many obstacles that prevent intimacy and many life experiences that have hurt us.  I have been able to help couples heal from deep hurts, let go of frustrations and losses, and come out of traumatic experiences to places of deep satisfaction.

I would love to visit more with you about the things in your life that are most important.  I think I can assist you in deepening your love for your partner and getting the love you want.  Call me and let’s visit.

Addiction is a family disease

POSTED July 6, 2012  

About 10% of people who, when they choose to drink, will eventually become an alcoholic.  Those who have a parent or close relative who have struggled with addiction are at higher risk to become addicted if they drink.  When alcohol reaches the pleasure center of the brain, a craving is set up that leads to compulsive use.

Addiction is a brain disease that is strongly linked to family history.  A person usually goes through four stages in their journey into addiction.  First, they learn the mood swing (euphoria) which comes with a first drink; a strong desire follows to repeat the experience.  Second, this person plans another mood swing and arranges their schedule to use again.  It is around this time that they cross the line into compulsive use. Third, they enter a time of increased use with periodic loss of control that results in blackouts, loss of insight, and growing delusion.  A person has to consume more to get the desired mood swing.  Fourth, a person enters a black hole where they consume more but experience very little euphoria; they have to use just to feel normal.  At this point a person is experiencing a systematic and comprehensive unraveling of their lives.

An intervention is a process that helps “raise the bottom” for a person, encouraging them to enter treatment.  An interventionist meets several times with family members and friends to help the alcoholic see clearly and feel what has been happening in the lives of those around them, and gives the person the opportunity to get help.

 

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