Many parents have co-dependency issues when dealing with children who have problems with substance abuse. They tend to feel as though they are the reason for their child's behavior. They may try to overcompensate for this guilt with financial support or other behaviors that actually enable the child. When a parent is co-dependent there is usually enabling going on. Most parents want the best for their child and will do whatever it takes to help them along their journey in life. Let's not misconstrue caring about a child and helping them succeed with co-dependency.
When someone is co-dependent on another individual they are not only trying to take care of that person but they are doing so to gratify a missing piece in themselves. Co-dependent individuals tend to ignore their own personal needs and focus on the needs of others. They may live vicariously through their child, basing their emotions on the emotions of their child. This becomes very unhealthy for both the parents and the child. Studies show that when a parent is co-dependent the child is twice as likely to display the same behavior later in his or her life. The child who is abusing a substance may also become co-dependent on the parent while they are actively using, becoming financially dependent and emotionally draining. There is some confusion on the definition or signs of co-dependency. Co-dependency can be defined as:
- A lack of a relationship with one's self. Having a poor understanding of one's own emotions and needs.
- A dependency on the external, they may try to take care of others and base their emotions on outside external fixes.
- Lack of understand for what an individual is responsible for. Feeling as though they are responsible for other people's actions and emotions. Being affected by other people's emotions and actions in a negative way.
- Excessive dependency on others at the expense of one's self
- A continuous pattern of putting aside the needs of one's self to satisfy the needs of others
All of these signs of co-dependent behavior have a negative effect on a parent, or anyone who is co-dependent on another person. Parents who are co-dependent are not helping their child to deal with their problem with substance abuse, and in most situations are enabling the child. If action is not taken, the cycle of co-dependency will continue. Al-Anon is a fellowship of men and women whom have a close relationship with addicts or alcoholics but are not addicts themselves. Most individuals in Al-Anon struggle with co-dependency issues. This fellowship helps to teach parents and loved ones how to do the right thing while not being co-dependent and negatively affecting themselves.