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Alcoholism Co-Dependency

Co-dependency relationships involving alcohol addiction are built on a couple’s needs, not love and trust. When these types of relationships form the two people involved sacrifice their independence to make healthy choices in lieu of constant anxiety, fear and the overwhelming need of emotional security no matter how damaging it may be to them. These relationships may be made up of two alcoholics who both bring drama and personal problems into the relationship. Or, a relationship with co-dependency problems can be made up of one alcoholic and one non-using person who remain with the alcoholic despite their problems with alcohol.

When two people have problems with alcohol and choose to stay together in a co-dependent relationship there are many underlying issues at play. An alcoholic will choose a life-partner who they feel they can control and lean on for their personal emotional support. They will use their partner as a drinking buddy, a counselor and an emotional punching bag if needed. The two alcoholics will continue this destructive cycle until it plays out; often with one or both of them in rehab or jail.

Co-dependency can take place between an alcoholic and their non-using partner. In these types of relationships it is not unusual for the non-using partner to choose to stay with the alcoholic because they have low self-esteem and feel a sense of being needed when they are with them. It can also be noted that the non-using partner in the co-dependent relationship may feel secure and in control of their lives because they are helping their “loved one” who has so many life struggles.

Problems with co-dependency don’t always have to be between two people in a romantic relationship. There are situations where co-dependency takes place between parents and their alcoholic child, alcoholic parent(s) and their co-dependent children, co-dependency between siblings, etc. No matter how the relationship dynamic is constructed, when two people are participating in a relationship built on co-dependency each person is getting their “needs” met, or so they think. These relationships may seem fine or even happy to an outside observer who is clueless to the drama going on behind the scenes.

You may have heard that it is common for people to choose partners who are similar to their mother or father. When this comes to co-dependency an alcoholic may choose a partner who is nurturing and “takes care” of them like a mother or father figure would. On the other hand, they may choose someone who is abusive and hostile towards them and use it to get pity from others as an excuse to drink. Sometimes the provider in the relationship is the alcoholic. When this is the case they may become mean and abusive while trying to control their partner with fear and intimidation. In any of these scenarios the dynamic can change at any given moment depending on what each partner needs out of the relationship at that moment.

When one partner in the co-dependent relationship decides that they have had enough it can be nearly impossible for them to leave. This is because the other person is going to do everything in their power to get them to stay and keep things exactly as they are. The person who wants out is doing their best to assert their control, leaving the other person feeling vulnerable and abandoned. They will do and say whatever it takes to get their “loved one” to stay with them; often promising to change their ways, stop drinking entirely, etc. If this doesn’t work they may even resort to threatening, insulting or even getting into a physical altercation with the other person.

It may be the hardest thing a person does when they leave a relationship built on co-dependency. However, if they do not make changes within themselves they are likely to find themselves right back in another co-dependent relationship. This is because this type of relationship feels familiar to them and “normal.” If they do not take a hard look at themselves and address their inner issues then they will likely to end up in a similarly abusive relationship.

When it comes to co-dependency, there is no right and wrong. There is just the need to separate and move-on into a healthier phase in your life. Each and every person is entitled to happy, constructive relationships built on friendship and mutual respect. For those who are looking to get out of a co-dependent relationship keep in mind that the other person is likely to do their best to make you feel guilty and ashamed for leaving them. They will push every button you have in hopes of getting you to stay. Find support in friends and family who want you to have your best life possible. It is not easy to walk away but once you do and begin addressing your own inner issues you will find more strength and a happier and more rewarding life.  

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  • Alcohol Facts
  • Pregnant women who drink risk having babies with fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Eliminating alcohol from the body is a long process. About 90 percent must be metabolized through the liver. The remaining 10 percent is eliminated through the lungs and urine. It takes about one hour to eliminate one-half ounce of alcohol.
  • An average beer has about 5% alcohol content, but beers can vary in alcohol content too. An ice beer has a higher content, some as high as 7% by volume and some of the light beers are much lower alcohol content.
  • Young people are inexperienced drinkers as well as drivers. Less alcohol is needed to affect their driving ability. More 18, 19 and 20 year olds died in low BAC (between .01 and .09) alcohol-related crashes than any other age group.