Understanding Codependency in Addiction
Addiction is a complex condition whose roots are can be difficult to understand. When an addict seeks treatment, there can be many factors that can complicate their recovery. While some factors are obvious, there are some which can be more difficult to resolve. Codependency is an example that can be a significant obstacle on the path to sobriety. In this article, you will learn about the concept of codependency in addiction and how it impacts both the addict and their family.
What Exactly is Codependency?
In simple terms, codependency in addiction is defined as a relationship in which one person puts the needs of another person over their own. In a codependent relationship where addiction is present, the partner or family member of the addict takes on the role of a caretaker. With the intention of helping the addict, the person in the caretaker role becomes the decision-maker in the relationship.
While the caretaker has the best intentions in helping the addict, they are completely lifting the responsibilities of consequences from the addict. As a result, the addict continues their self-destructive behavior-and their addiction becomes more deep-seated. When the addict finally seeks professional help, the caretaker will also need help in understanding their behaviors and how they enable the addict.
What Situations Does Codependency in Addiction Arise?
As stated in the last section, codependency in addiction arises from the need of the “caretaker” to remedy an addict’s situation. People who struggle with addiction experience a wide range of problems because of their substance use. The biggest problems include issues with work and finances, problems with friendships and other intimate relationships and engaging in high-risk behaviors. Additionally, addicts are in constant need of attention and constant emotional support.
To help the addict, the codependent person will try and support the addict. Instead of acting to resolve their addiction, the caretaker will engage in behaviors that enable the addict. Examples of these behaviors include paying the addict’s mortgage or rent, paying past due bills, and covering for the addict and their reckless behavior. As we have seen, this enabling behavior does nothing but give the addict the opportunity to continue their behavior.
Codependency in addiction is harmful for the caretaker as well as the addict. The person who is the caretaker in the relationship are willing to do almost anything to keep the relationship going-even if that relationship is toxic. The caretaker wants to be loved and are afraid of rejection. As a result, the caretaker will do anything and everything in their power to keep the addict in a relationship.
The Symptoms of Codependency in Drug and Alcohol Addiction
For those who are codependent with an addicted person, they will display a variety of signs which include the following:
- Low self-esteem
- Has difficulty in declaring boundaries and saying no
- Poor communication skills with others
- Obsessing over the thoughts of other people
- Intimacy issues
- Suffers from depression, anger and resentment
Additionally, people who are codependent may also suffer from mental illness. People who are codependent can have undiagnosed mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. If not properly addressed, the symptoms of codependency could become progressively severe. As a result, the codependent person is at increased risk of developing more serious mental illness down the road.
Comprehensive Wellness Centers Can Help You
Codependency in addiction is difficult to treat. To effectively deal with this issue, it is important that the entire family enters treatment together so that the whole family can recover. Comprehensive Wellness Centers can help your family heal and grow. We offer a wide array of treatment options that can be tailored to fit your family’s needs. Through counseling, holistic and traditional treatment models and dual diagnosis treatment, the staff at CWC will give you the tools your family needs to travel the road to recovery with confidence.
Medically Reviewed: March 9, 2018
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.