Because the cycle of addiction is fueled by feelings of powerlessness, often addicts will find themselves in co-dependent relationships. However, although they might go through drug detox and even reside at a residential drug treatment center for a while, the patterns of relationship may still exist.
Learning how to navigate new relationships is big part of recovery and drug treatment aftercare.
Two of the common dysfunctional patterns seen in relationships are enabling and co-dependency, both of which stem from powerlessness.
To enable means to assist, facilitate, or make possible. However, the pattern of enabling in families with an addict can be indirectly harmful and unhealthy. Instead of helping the one who is addicted to alcohol or substances, a spouse or sibling might do things for the addict that he could be and should be doing for himself.
To highlight the difference between helping and enabling, here’s an example. To help someone is to assist in a task that he or she cannot do alone, such as calling the pharmacy when your spouse has lost his voice from strep throat. Enabling, however, is completing a task that he can do on his own, such as paying the bills for an addict who hasn’t worked because of his addiction.
Finding Your Power
Enabling often exists in co-dependent relationships. With this, there is often a belief among both or one of the partners that it would be impossible to make in life without the other person. The belief in being powerless in life leads to a dysfunctional relying on the other person for things that one can and should do on their own, such as being financially stable.
This underlying belief in being powerless seems to attract an enabler who in turn believes that no one else can perform a task as well as they can. Enablers tend to take control of a situation thinking that they are being helpful without seeing that it would be more healthy to allow the other person to do that task on his or her own.
It is common for the enabler to see the addict as powerless, playing into the addict’s belief in him or herself as being powerless. Enabling patterns frequently make up the majority of relating in co-dependent relationships.
Certainly, drug addiction therapy, once drug detox and dependence on the substance itself has been addressed, must include the transformation of deeply embedded habits, thoughts, and beliefs. One the significant ways that this is done in drug addiction treatment is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Benefits of CBT
CBT is a form of therapy many psychologists and therapists use to treat a variety of mental illness, including drug addiction. It aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of a client. By changing the thought pattern and by replacing it with thoughts that are aimed towards a specific therapeutic goal, a teen’s life can slowly begin to change.
For example, instead of “I am worthless”; the new thought might be “I can do this”. Recovery addicts working with a CBT Therapist would learn that helpful thoughts are those that promote self-acceptance and empowerment.
CBT’s ability to increase one’s awareness also facilitates the ability to stop making choices unconsciously and start to make decisions that support a healthy self-esteem. This is an essential component to the success of drug treatment.
There’s no question that drug addiction treatment requires addressing the underlying issues. It means exploring any unexpressed emotions, such as anger, shame, resentment, or sadness. And perhaps most importantly, it means restoring a sense of power and self-acceptance.
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