Healthy relationships begin when someone provides emotional support and encouragement to the significant other or children to facilitate growth. It happens when you love the person. Provided both people encourage each other to grow, then there’s no harm. But it’s an unhealthy relationship if your support and encouragement are detrimental to your psychological, financial, and social well-being. It is called codependency.
Codependency is a dysfunctional dynamism that benefits one party. While it’s common in romantic relationships, people suffering from substance use disorder are also caught in this unhealthy relationship web. The codependency rate is skyrocketing, and given that addiction affects 61.2 million people above 12 based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data, it will only get higher. This blog delves into what codependency in addiction means, its signs, impacts, and how to overcome it.
BNI Treatment Centers offer adolescent mental health treatment in the Los Angeles area.
What is Codependency in Addiction?
Before we define codependency addiction, let’s take a critical look at what codependency means. It is a dysfunctional relationship where only one person benefits. In a codependent relationship, one person is the caretaker, and the other is the benefactor. The latter has an unhealthy reliance on the caretaker, often at the expense of the codependent. The other person tries to please their partner in whatever way, creating a difficult-to-break cycle.
Codependency in addiction is fuelling the other person’s addictive behavior by enabling them. This could be giving them money for drugs or alcohol or having the partner purchase the substances themselves. The partner does all that they can to please them. A codependent person always feels the need to be loved and appreciated and will replicate that feeling towards the other addicted partner by providing for their needs. The partner’s needs and wants dictate their life. The codependent spends most of the time responding to those needs, even if it means enabling their partner’s addictive behavior. The caretaker sees this enablement as a way to relieve the other partner of the pain and frustration of being alone and satisfy them.
A codependent relationship is toxic and dangerous to both parties involved. Besides forcing the caretaker to sacrifice their life and forgo their needs, the addicted partner slips into addiction further. Besides, the codependent may go as far as stealing or committing a crime to get their partner’s needs. Codependency is challenging to recognize because not all relationships you think are codependent are actually codependent. Therefore, understanding the signs is essential to find healthy ways to address the issue. Knowing the signs is fundamental to breaking the vicious cycle and seeking relief.
Signs of a Codependent Relationship Involving Addiction
Signs of codependency in addiction include:
- Poor self-confidence: Neither individual in a codependent relationship has self-confidence. The codependent individual feels their life outside the relationship is meaningless. The other partner depends on the opinions and validation of others to feel self-worth and a sense of purpose. The codependent person is often manipulative out of insecurity that the partner might abandon them.
- People-pleaser: A codependent’s partner holds the opinions of others a great deal over what they think about themselves. The person will do anything to maintain a positive outlook. As a result, they may feel guilty when they say ‘no’ to others.
- No clear boundaries: In a typical, healthy relationship, both parties respect each other’s feelings and autonomy. However, that’s different in a codependent relationship. The codependent person and their partner have issues respecting, recognizing, and setting boundaries. They encroach on each other’s privacy, where the codependent person doesn’t accept boundaries, and the other lacks the will to enforce them. The codependent person is controlling, while the partner is compliant.
- Caring for everyone: You can’t take care of everyone, but that’s a simple fact that people in a codependent relationship can’t comprehend. A person in this relationship is poised to make everyone happy and comfortable, even to their detriment. This feeling usually stems from childhood if the caretaker grew up in a home where their parents’ love was absent. As a result, they are forced to babysit everyone, not necessarily out of affection but from the fear that they might lose the person to something unfortunate if they don’t.
- Reliance: Both parties feed off each other emotionally, psychologically, and financially. One person needs their addiction to be met while the other partner needs validation to feel self-worth from pleasing someone.
- Internalizing criticism: When you base your life on pleasing and caring for others, you feel responsible for whatever happens to them. You react to situations and internalize criticism. It happens because you no longer recognize your needs and wants.
Impacts of Codependency on Substance Abuse
Both partners suffer tremendously in a codependent relationship, especially if it involves drug abuse. Both individuals experience health issues, including:
- Higher risk of addiction
- Loss of self-worth
- Poor health
- Inability to have meaningful relationships outside the codependent relationship
The Path to Recovery
Codependency and addiction are unhealthy and must be treated simultaneously. Rehab centers specializing in dual diagnosis can evaluate the conditions and create a customized treatment plan to handle them. If you or someone you know is battling codependency, BNI offers comprehensive care at our teen mental health treatment centers. Reach out if you are looking for treatment near Los Angeles or surrounding areas to learn more about codependency in addiction and how you can overcome it. We offer a safe space to help you in your recovery journey.