I’ve lived with addicts all my life and been codependent to many forms of addiction. I’ve made every mistake in the book (and invented some). I’m working a program of recovery from codependent behavior. This is what I’ve learned about active addiction behavior.
* Addict behavior is baffling, cunning and powerful. Addicts spend a lot of time on “stinkin’ thinking.” They misunderstand control and abuse. They don’t control things they can and should, but attempt to control things they can’t and shouldn’t (like other people). Addicts expect perfection, consistency and support, but are out of control, unpredictable and unreliable themselves. They expect too little of themselves and too much others. It’s an equal and opposite equation.
* Addicts will do anything to cover addiction. When you don’t meet her expectations (and you never will because they’re hypocritically impossible), the addict will play any card to get you back in your place: manipulation, guilt, shame, lying, bait and switch, displacement, projection and other passive-aggressive games.
* Addicts deny responsibility. When you make healthy choices–confronting issues, communicating feelings, dealing directly and honestly, being accountable and holding the addict accountable–expect a fight. He’ll play the blame-shame game, make a joke out of hurtful behavior, say he was “just teasing,” say you took it the wrong way. He’ll get mad at you for not handling his inappropriate behavior in the way he thought you should. They play by two sets of rules, one for you and one for the addict.
* Addicts call the shots. Addicts create an atmosphere of fear, shame, dishonesty and anxiety. People who live in that environment learn to tip-toe, keep secrets and hide feelings. Life with an addict is tricky. They’re constantly rewriting the rules to hide behavior. The atmosphere is explosive. Happiness is fragile, temporal and deceptive
* Addicts don’t thank you for acting healthy. Addicts feel helpless, hopeless, miserable, depressed and afraid. If they’re not working a recovery program (and even sometimes when they are) they want company in misery. They don’t want you to get healthy because then you’ll be happy without them and they’ll be alone and miserable.
Whatever the addict’s behavior, remember: you didn’t cause it; can’t control it; can’t cure it. You can only find recovery for yourself. Codependent recovery is an arduous, lonely, uphill climb. Active addicts will likely go out of their way to make it harder. I recommend using a 12-step program, like Alanon and joining an online support network.