Co-addictive relationships: Get angry!

In the cycle of a co-addictive relationship, anger is an appropriate response but it should be directed at the right person. More on co-addiction and relationships here.

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Co-addictive relationships

While it may take some time to define co addiction in your relationship, once you have…you’ll probably have to deal with lots of emotions, including anger.  A common protocol for dealing with anger is to suppress it and channel it to something positive. This can be a healthy attitude but in a co-addictive relationship, suppressing anger may suggest that feelings of anger are inappropriate. That is not the case. A co-addict has every right to be angry. It would be abnormal for a co-addict to not feel rage.

Here, we review anger and recovery from co-addiction.  Then, we invite your questions about both at the end.

Co-addiction and relationships: The source of the anger

A co-addict is in a relationship where their needs are not being met. They are dealing with a situation that is difficult, scary, and mentally draining.Dealing with an active addict is challenging. If a loved one steals from you, abandons you, cheats on you, disappears, puts their life at risk, and possibly yours, and/or lies to you while looking you in the eye—angerisan appropriate response.

If you are in a situation with an addict that is using, disappointment should be expected. And if you anticipate letdown, technically, there is no reason to be angry. Human nature is not that straightforward. Broken promises, even if deep down, you know they will occur, still hurt. In this way, anger is the appropriate response when settling for a co-addictive relationship.

Channel the Anger at the Appropriate Person

The anger felt towards an addict should be directed at the co-addict. A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not responsible for their actions. Imagine being high, and out of your own mind, for every waking moment of your day. That is the only way to understand that an addicted person being rational, dependable or trustworthy to anyone should be tossed out of the window.

When a co-addict comes to the realization that they are acting out of habit, and dependency on another person and their behavior, they can look at their own actions as a contribution to their own unhappiness.  Although this attitude may seem severe, the co-addict should be angry at themselves. If you are tolerating a relationship with anyone that makes you miserable, only you are responsible for that choice.  A justification when you are considering leaving an addict may be that you don’t just abandon the person you love when they are in need. If you alter the angle of your outlook you can look at this situation differently. You don’t abandon the person most in need—you.

The only help you can offer an addict that is using are these two things; a way to get them to a rehab when they are ready and tough love (the opposite of enabling—maintaining boundaries while making it clear that you care but this is for the other person’s benefit) . If you do not protect yourself from the viciousness of drug abuse, then the only person you can be angry at is yourself.

Get Angry!

In my own co-addictive marriage, when I finally grasped that my life and sanity were wasting away, I looked into the future. I saw myself in this situation not just in my twenties, but in my thirties, my forties, or perhaps forever. I became infuriated—infuriated at myself. This is not the life I envisioned for myself. I started to visualize what a happier life would be like for me. I realized although I had addictive tendencies, I was the sober the person in this relationship, so I would have a greater chance at making a change.

When I became angry at the appropriate person, the anger became a vehicle for change. When a co-addict sobers up and takes responsibility for their life, they can use their anger as a catalyst to transform their life.

About the author
Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.
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