Frequently asked questions
Help for relatives
Co-dependence is defined as addiction-promoting behaviour of people surrounding an affected person. Animated by the intention to help and support the affected person, they end up in a type of dependence directed at the life of the addicted person.
Co-dependence can be recognised in three phases. Initially, the co-dependent person protects and finds excuses for the addicted person, typically in interaction with an employer. The addictive drug is procured, and the gravity of the situation is generally downplayed. In the second phase, the co-dependent person tries to control the addicted person, for instance by hiding the addictive drug and by more intense scrutiny. The third phase start with the insight that these behaviours do not solve the problem. The co-dependent person develops feelings of accusation, exclusion, and avoidance towards the addicted person.
Other features are:
- Co-dependent persons have difficulty in setting boundaries; they often lack self-esteem.
- Their life is completely put on the back burner.
- They feel responsible for the affected person and for keeping up the façade to the surrounding world.
- They are often severely exhausted and feel under a lot of pressure.
- They suffer from psychosomatic symptoms like headache, tension, and depression.
Relatives and friends must first acknowledge and accept that a loved one is suffering from anxiety disorder – and that this is a mental illness. It is important to learn about the disease. This can be done through professional medical advice as well as through discussion with other affected persons.
Friends and family members can help people affected by listening to them and showing that they understand the situation. In no case should suffering be a cause for criticism, reproach or ridicule. It is important that sufferers see that they are not alone and are supported. It is equally important to encourage those affected to seek professional help or, in the extreme case, to initiate their own medical examination.
Most of the people affected depend on the support of their family in their daily lives as part of a reduction in their intelligence. This is a big, lifelong task for family members and often a full-time job. In order to have the necessary patience, perseverance and care, it is essential that family members pay attention to their limitations and do not take over. It is essential to make use of early offers of help that relieve family life and support relatives in the challenges they face. Visiting self-help groups helps many.
Depending on the cause of the sexual dysfunction, relatives and especially partners play an important role in treatment. In the case of physical illness of the affected persons, it is helpful if relatives learn about the illness and actively support those suffering. If they are directly affected by their partner’s dysfunction, understanding the difficult situation is helpful. Even if it is difficult, partners should not exert any pressure or downplay the problems. Open and honest exchange of expectations and wishes can help in some cases. In many cases, it is beneficial for the couple to seek therapeutic help together.
The best way to help affected individuals is by being informed. What consequences does an addiction disease have and what do you have to prepare for? Use professional advice and exchange information with people in the same situation. You can also find more about self-help on curamenta.
Being informed also means setting boundaries. Even though you want to help the suffering person unconditionally, don`t take responsibility for their addiction. Be careful to avoid entering a situation of co-dependence, which is adopting an addiction-promoting type of behaviour, frequently without being aware of it. Such behaviour includes procuring the addictive drug, or justification of the addiction to yourself or others, for example.
Relatives frequently feel helpless, even though they would like very much to help. It is important not to put the affected person under pressure. Therapeutic assistance is most effective when they are highly motivated to seek help. The best thing relatives can do is to encourage self-motivation. It is also important not to criticise or ridicule body and eating behaviour issues, and not to reduce affected individuals to only their disease.
Given that the situation is difficult for everyone involved and relatives go through their own emotional problems, it is reasonable for them too to seek professional help.
Sleep disorders can very directly affect relatives. A typical example is the sleepless partner tossing and turning in bed, or constantly turning the light on. Relatives should avoid reacting in an irritable or angry way, even if that is sometimes difficult. Affected individuals in most cases suffer markedly and are tense due to their inability to sleep. Anger and blame do not help. If the situation lasts longer, separate beds can help prevent sleep deprivation.
Understanding for the situation and consideration for decreased daytime fitness and concentration bring temporary relief. In the long run, the affected individual must deal with the sleep disorder and seek help. Relatives can motivate them and show their support.