It might surprise you to learn that nearly 40 million Americans, many of whom are primarily women, have been labeled as codependent. But what might not be as surprising is the links between codependency and addiction.
Like two branches of the same tree, addiction and codependency are often interlinked.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact codependency has on addiction.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is a behavior that produces unhealthy relationship dynamics, where one person becomes overly reliant on the other for emotional or psychological support.
Like addiction, codependency can be considered to be an obsession with someone—an addiction to a person that often has a negative impact on both parties.
Similar to the way an addict will abuse a substance despite it being harmful, a codependent person will attach themselves to a relationship knowing it’s unhealthy for them.
Codependency is not something a person is born with, but rather a learned behavior. As with all other behaviors, it can be changed with some form of behavioral therapy.
The behavior can also be passed down to younger generations or other people who might learn the behavior from you.
Given the many similarities between addiction and codependency, it’s common for codependency and addiction to be found in the same household.
Characteristics Of Codependent People
The majority of codependents have benevolent intentions. Their view of themselves is that they are the caretaker and must be loyal and loving to those they care for.
Codependent people have the following characteristics:
- Low or a lack of self-esteem
- Finding it hard to be themselves
- Difficulty making choices without approval
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Workaholism, gambling, or other addictive traits
- Exaggerated sense of responsibility towards others
- Confusing love and pity
- Put in more than they get out
- Fear of abandonment
- Lack of boundaries
- Get in trouble to cover for a partner
- Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings
Can Codependency Impact Addiction?
It’s common for codependents and addicts to live under the same roof. Those suffering from addiction are more likely to display this behavior, but it’s not exclusive to them.
Addiction and codependency have many similarities, and there are many ways in which codependency can contribute to addiction.
For one thing, codependency can have a strong emotional impact on the person suffering from it. This could lead them to seek substances as a way to relieve their emotional pain. Being prone to addictive behaviors, the unhealthy outlet can ultimately develop into addiction.
Another way in which codependency can contribute to addiction is by enabling the addict’s behavior. A codependent person might make excuses for the addict in the relationship, or if both parties are addicted they could make pretexts for each other. This denial attitude could worsen the addiction and encourage the addicted party to continue with their unhealthy habits.
While codependency is not technically a mental illness, the behavior can affect the patient in ways similar to that of a mental health disorder.
Because codependency affects addiction, a codependent person could be at risk of relapse if the condition is not treated.
For example, a conflictive or perturbed partner could sabotage the progress of the recovering addict, sometimes even intentionally.
The complex dynamics of a close relationship where codependents and addiction are found can create a challenging environment for those in recovery.
The addict might be better off detoxing away from their partner or from any other conflictive relatives or friends. Family or CBT Therapy could also help improve the condition.
Are You Codependent?
You should seek professional help if you believe you are codependent and cannot find a way out of your current situation.
Taking on codependency and drug addiction alone can be difficult, and it may even become dangerous if the relationship turns violent.
There is no need to worry if you or someone you care about is struggling with codependency and addiction! You can count on us for assistance!
At Outpatient LA we offer dual-diagnosis therapy among other treatments that can help you or your loved ones overcome codependency and addiction together.
Contact Outpatient LA today and ask how we can help!