Wherever you find addiction you will also find dysfunction. The two are joined at the hip. Because of the severe ill of addiction, the dysfunction is very clear. Friends and loved ones of the addict may say, "they used to be so full of life and now I just don't know who they are anymore." That is true of everyone who engages with the issue of addiction... the rules of relationships change. When it comes to the addict and their codependent, significant other, the rules of their relationship may look something like this:
From the Viewpoint of the Addict:
It doesn't take long before the illness spreads to everyone involved. The rules of an ill relationship have no good end. If you continue to play by the rules of dysfunctional relationships, nothing will change, and, in fact, things will only get worse. You may ask, "How can that be? I'm trying to help!" The only way that true change can happen is if the rules of the relationship change. The loved one of the addict is in a better place to change the rules than the addict many times. Changing the rules is hard, but not impossible.
1) You must detach. This is not divorce. Detachment is changing the rules of engagement and placing responsibility and accountability back on the individuals to whom they belong. Detachment says, "You may choose _______ but that doesn't mean I clean up after you." Detachment says, "I love you too much to keep on with the rules the way they are."
2) You must focus on self. Loved ones of addicts must shift the focus back to themselves and care for their own well being. In the absence of the over-involvement you have been giving the addict, you trust them into the care of God, and then you trust yourself into the care of God. Only His presence and power can change us.
3) You must establish new rules. This list will be completely different. A new list of rules might look like this: