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Co-Dependency- Living With An Alcoholic

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Unfortunately those who abuse alcohol are not just hurting themselves, but those around them. Spouses and parents who abuse alcohol leave a damaging legacy behind on their respective spouses and children. Children who grow up with an alcoholic in the home have many issues to overcome themselves, providing they can escape the cycle of addiction. This is why detox alcohol treatment provided by detox centers is so important. The sooner an alcoholic gets help the sooner everyone’s life can change for the better.


The definition of co-dependency describes a group of signs and symptoms that are normally present in those who live or have lived with an alcoholic. Those who have lived with an alcoholic tend to take on care-taking responsibilities, they deny their feelings, they develop a quest for perfection, and live in a state of fear and dishonesty. A person who is co-dependent may not be addicted to a substance but they may exhibit similar characteristics to that of the addicted person.

Loss of Identity

In addition to taking on unnecessary responsibility and trying to achieve impossible goals, a co-dependent person may also lose their identity. Living with an addicted person often puts a damper on freedoms and the ability to express oneself. Eventually the co-dependent learns not to express their opinion, and they often attempt to even make up for or compensate for the alcoholic’s irresponsible behavior.

Internal Struggle

Individuals who suffer from the plight of co-dependency often have internal struggles regarding emotions. They often feel angry, confused, guilty, or inadequate. They often focus their attention on the alcoholic which leaves their own needs neglected. This usually creates long-term difficulties in terms of creating an identity as well as setting boundaries and developing positive self-esteem.  In this regard the co-dependent person is usually characterized as an individual who greatly desires to be loved by others to the point of neglecting their own needs. They also often attract partners who are addictive, abusive, or in other fashions, dysfunctional.

Physical and Emotional Effects

There are also many physical and emotional consequences associated with co-dependency. These effects include depression, dysfunctional relationships, anxiety, as well as the cycling between lethargy and hyperactivity. Physical issues include gastro-intestinal disturbances including ulcers and colitis. Migraine headaches and non-specific rashes as well as skin problems are common effects. High blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and all other conditions related to stress related physical illnesses can be attributed.

Help For The Co-Dependent

Even if the alcoholic themselves does not get help, there is help for those who live with them. Programs such as Ala-non and Ala-teen, allow family members the opportunity to express their concerns and emotions regarding the alcoholic in their home. Denial is a big part of life for those who live with an alcoholic, and by truly recognizing behaviors, change can happen. The co-dependent should not suffer throughout their life due to the behavior and actions of the alcoholic in their midst.

Alcoholism does not only affect the alcoholic, but those around them as well. The children of alcoholics become co-dependents as do the spouses of alcoholics. For this reason it is important that a parent or spouse enter detox alcohol treatment provided by detox centers. This way they can prevent the legacy left by an alcoholic. However, if they do not, it is up to the co-dependent to get help for themselves and not let the cycle of addiction continue.

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