As a therapist in Chestnut Hill and Lower Gwynedd I work with codependence and the effects of alcohol and other addictions on family members and loved ones. As they become adults and current relationships evolve Adult Children of Alcoholics/ Addicts or ACOAs may reenact childhood feelings of fear, shame, hurt, blame, and anger. ACOAs can experience a lack of trust in relationships in general as they become hyper-vigilant always scanning the environment for sign of distress. The radar instinct is strong and challenging to tone down.
There can be an upside in that many ACOAs develop and fine tune qualities that are necessary for success such as dealing with crises, setbacks, or uncertainty. The need to control is strong in the human spirit and yet the codependent person soon learns that all they can manage are their own actions and reactions since attempts to control a loved one’s addiction prove ineffective.
Loving someone with an addiction can translate to living through chaotic and unpredictable scenarios that lend themselves to increased stress and anxiety. Yet with counseling and participation at self help meetings, such as Al Anon, people can find methods to set appropriate boundaries and manage expectations in relation to others.
Through therapy with a qualified professional, such as a Licensed Counselor who is Certified in Addiction, they can learn new tools and strategies for better mental health and more successful relationships. They can figure out how to be engage in self-care, a trait often neglected while they over extended themselves trying to take care of others.
Deb Owens is a Licensed Counselor and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Chestnut Hill and Lower Gwynedd, PA.