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Codependency: Creating Caring Boundaries

Codependency is very common in people suffering from drug or alcohol abuse. When someone we love struggles with addiction, it is difficult to have the wisdom to know when and how to step in and help.


We may wonder when is the right time to let go and when the most effective thing to do is not to be involved.  Please look at the following questions and answer them honestly, becoming more aware of personal experiences you’ve had regarding the following points:

Have you ever had this dilemma before, or has your family had this dilemma with you, whether the loving thing is to get involved or to let go?

How can it hurt the loved one if we step in and help too much?

What does it mean to be over-responsible or over-controlling?

What does it mean to let go and let the other person work things out themselves and experience the consequences of their behavior?

Signs of Codependency

The following are red flags to look out for in a relationship:

  1. Excessive worry about the person you care about

  2. Trying to control the behavior of the one you care about

  3. Feeling responsible for that person’s behavior

  4. Feeling guilty about not doing enough

  5. Taking over that person’s responsibilities

  6. Covering up what is going on with them

  7. Not taking care of your own needs but spending time and energy helping others get their needs met

  8. Often feeling overwhelmed or inadequate

  9. Frequently feeling fatigued

  10. Making excuses for the person you care for

  11. Frequent anxiety

  12. Frequent sadness

  13. Frequently rescuing him/her

  14. Frequent anger

Healthy self-care is extremely important. Below is a list of self-care strategies.

  1. Let go of trying to control while continuing to be responsible for your part.

  2. Ask for help from others.

  3. Set boundaries for yourself and communicate this with the person you are helping.

  4. Have the courage to let go. When appropriate, let the person experience the consequences of their behavior. Let go of any guilt/shame you may have about doing this.

  5. Accept and be at peace with your limitations.

  6. Develop a strong plan of your own self care (physical, emotional, spiritual).

  7. Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made.

  8. Forgive others for mistakes they have made.

  9. Accept that you can change yourself. You cannot change others. You can influence others.

If you suspect you are in a codependent relationship with someone who is struggling with substance abuse, please contact us. There is hope to restore a healthy balance with those you love.

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