Codependency and Addiction

Experts say that everyone has some codependent tendencies in relationships. However, codependents are much more attracted to emotionally unavailable people, struggle with addictive personalities, or are emotionally wounded. 

While helping a loved one seems normal, codependents might constantly seek and enter a relationship with someone with an abusive personality or substance addiction.

Some codependents believe taking care of those who need it most is their good deed, and they feel good from the validation the relationship gives them. Furthermore, codependents are usually motivated by a lack of self-love, hoping to get the love they give to others in return. 

How Does Someone Become Codependent?

Like many challenging relationship dynamics, codependency usually stems from childhood. Children might’ve learned their only value was when they received attention when being around family in times of need.

People who struggle with substance addiction may find that loved ones can help them by providing support, motivation, and help throughout addiction therapy. Some relationships will have the opposite effect, creating a greater chance that they’ll never get help.

Codependency often leads to these results. Someone struggling with substance abuse and has a codependent loved one can find it difficult to get the help needed. The codependent one can make it difficult to stick to the sobriety, causing relapse and drug-abusing behavior.

What is Codependency?

Codependency defines a romantic relationship where one partner has extreme emotional or physical needs. The opposite partner spends a lot of their time reacting to those needs of the codependent partner’s life, activities, and other relationships.

Codependency can cause a difficult spiral in which the codependent one cares for and enables their challenges, causing them to continue destructive behaviors.

Symptoms of codependency include:

  • Low self-esteem- Someone who is codependent may feel unloved outside of a relationship and depends on others’ opinions to feel positive self-worth.
  • People-pleasing- Other people’s opinions mean a lot for someone who is codependent. They’ll do anything to ensure people have a positive opinion of them. They may feel intense guilt or an inability to disagree with others.
  • Caretaking- The codependent person feels the need to care for others, often while neglecting themselves; in extreme situations, they don’t feel comfortable or secure unless needed.
  • Unhealthy or lack of boundaries- Those who are codependent usually dont have a sense of boundaries, either for themself or others. They may offer undesired advice, feel responsible for others’ feelings, or manipulate others to feel secure.
  • Obsession with relationships- Due to the codependent one feeling defined by intimate relationships, an obsessive focus develops for them, or else the relationship will lack emotional intimacy.

Identifying Codependency

Codependency is characterized by suffering, anger, disappointment, and lower boundaries. Due to this, codependency has unique traits and obvious behaviors. Usually, you can notice if someone has codependency issues by a combination of characteristics, which include:

  • They get angry when someone tries to set boundaries
  • Submitting to a partners threat to leave
  • Unable to declare needs or set boundaries in a relationship
  • Making others take care of them 
  • Rationalizing lack of responsibility or poor behaviors
  • Codependent’s taking advantage of those who care about them
  • Denial in the relationship by justifying negative behavior
  • Having low self-esteem in relationships
  • Making themself responsible for other peoples problems
  • Must always control others
  • Feeling depressed or anxious because of relationship difficulties
codependency and addiction

Codependents usually have weakened boundaries from taking on the pain of loved ones and enabling their dependence while excusing negative behavior. The codependent person becomes anxious or depressed if they can’t save their loved one from infliction.

Ways Codependency and Addiction Affect Relationships

Most people with codependency issues believe that they can take others’ pain away. Therefore, the idea that they are healers unconsciously encourages them to enable threatening behavior with loved ones. Also, they’ll usually feed into unhealthy relationships to boost their self-worth and self-esteem. Finally, the codependent one could become affected by their lover’s lifestyle and become resentful.  

If codependents enter into a relationship with a person who enables their caretaking actions, both people’s growth will stop. They’ll also be unable to maintain healthy relationship dynamics during other connections. 

The three main types of codependents include:

  • Codependent relationships with lovers with substance addiction
  • Codependent relationships with an abusive lover
  • Codependent relationships with lovers who peer pressured them

Codependent relationships with abusive types and substance addiction can be especially challenging. Codependents usually provide money to their loved ones, which enables their addiction, keeping them from rehab, or supplying them with alcohol and drugs. This keeps the substance abuser addicted, preventing them from recovering healthily and keeping the codependent one attached to the relationship.

When the non-codependent one in the relationship abuses their power, the codependent must comply with requests to keep them in control. Examples include making excuses for substance use as the codependent can only function from insecurity and their ability to please. Finally, the codependent always needs to be a people pleaser but folds under pressure to accommodate their loved ones’ demands.

Codependency and Addiction

Codependency doesn’t inevitably occur with substance abuse, but studies show it was first identified by family members struggling with alcoholism. This is usually found in people who have close relationships with others who struggle with substance addiction. 

Codependency and addiction can manifest in multiple ways, which include:

  • Children of parents with substance addiction
  • Significant others or family members of loved ones abusing substances
  • When both partners were abusing substances

In the relationship, the codependent partner does not necessarily have to be a spouse. Studies have identified how to recognize codependent behavior in kids. Usually, children of parents with substance addiction grow up to become codependent, especially if they feel the need to take on a caretaker role with the parent. Most common antidepressants are found to be a popular addiction factor within teens and young adults. 

Risks for Codependent Partners

When in a codependent relationship with a substance abuser, both people will experience many negative risks and effects based on the circumstance. For example, a study has indicated that serious implications can occur for the family dynamics regarding codependent relationships and health. 

Some risks for codependent partners include:

  • Increased risk of also developing an addiction like to food, sex, gambling, or substances
  • Loss of connections with people outside the codependent relationship
  • Unable to keep up with daily responsibilities outside of the codependent relationship

Codependency usually results in one of the lovers working hard to care for the substance abuser. This causes the codependent partner to neglect their own needs, causing low self-esteem, depression, poor health, and other physical and mental consequences.

Risks for Substance Abusers

Codependency and Addiction

As for the one suffering from substance abuse, a codependent relationship can cause severe consequences on the addiction and future treatment outcomes. The priority is the codependent relationship serves as an enabling force in one’s life. 

The codependent person might want to help their significant other, but they may also subconsciously fear that the other one won’t need them anymore if the addiction stops. This leads to prevent any truly effective attempts to get rehab, leaving the substance abuser continuing to struggle with addiction along with the mental and physical health risks it creates.

A study has shown that this factor can also be a risk if they enroll in an addiction treatment program because the codependent partner uses the addiction to control the relationship. Therefore, returning to the codependent relationship after rehab increases the risk of relapse. Thus, codependence should be considered part of the patients’ comprehensive treatment plan when entering rehab.

Treatment for Codependency and Addiction

Someone struggling with substance addiction and is in a codependent relationship must consider treatment. Research-based rehab programs can help each person in a codependent relationship. For example, a study demonstrates that having addiction treatment specialists work with family members to modify codependent behaviors can last long after an inpatient drug rehab program.

In more severe codependency cases, it can help the codependent partner seek their treatment program. Psychiatric professionals can provide behavioral and personal therapy to improve the codependent individual’s self-image and ability to set goals, define needs, and draw boundaries that make it possible to have a stronger sense of self-worth, deeper emotional intimacy, and healthier relationships.

Drawing Boundaries in the Relationship

The most important element of treating codependency and substance addiction is discovering how to set boundaries. For each person, for the codependent partner and the one struggling with substance addiction, setting boundaries helps restore a healthy relationship. In turn, it becomes more likely that each partner can recover from the challenges of a codependent and substance addiction relationship. 

Some beginning steps to draw healthy boundaries in relationships include:

  • Discovering that having preferences and needs that differ from your lover is ok
  • Setting personal emotions instead of what “should” be felt
  • Establishing limits on others’ behaviors
  • The ability to identify and pursue your own needs rather than the needs of others
  • Respecting other peoples boundaries

When you learn to establish boundaries, the codependent one and the substance abuser can learn how to produce a healthier relationship, making it more likely they’ll enlist help from a rehab center.

Get Help for Codependency and Addiction

When seeking help for codependency and substance addiction, look for a reputable, full-service addiction treatment center. Rehab centers like CNV Detox specialize in co-occurring conditions like codependency and substance addiction.

Treating codependency and substance addiction can be done in a variety of methods. If you or a loved one is a codependent and has become anxious or depressed or enables someone suffering from substance abuse, know that help is available. 

Codependents with a family history of substance addiction might also require counseling and support to regain their strength. If combined with depression or anxiety, they’ll need therapy, stability, and possibly medications to feel empowered. 

Here at CNV Detox, we can get you the help you need to recover from codependency and substance addiction. The first step to getting help is by contacting us. Our team of specialists can help you get back on track to living a happy, healthy lifestyle!