What does it mean to be codependent?First, we must break down what codependent even means. The definition most known for codependency refers to a dysfunctional relationship in which case one person is helping or enabling another person in poor habits or behaviors. This is most commonly seen between parent/children dynamics but is not limited to those relationships. Codependent relationships often arise inside of dating and marriage where the partners are in an unhealthy arrangement with each other where one may be engaging in substance abuse, addiction of any kind such as sex or gambling, poor mental health, procrastinating, underachievement or harmful physical health habits. When someone is codependent or involved in a codependent relationship, it is a double-sided relationship where reliance develops on each other for a multitude of reasons.
How does this relate to enabling drug or alcohol addiction?Codependency happens inside of relationships where addiction is present. We very commonly see the addict or alcoholic relying on their loved ones to foster their habits. We see the loved ones making excuses, offering financial assistance or taking on added responsibilities. This can also show up as doing more around the house, helping them keep their employment by supporting their workplace delinquency or simply by covering up why they are absent from important events, gatherings and functions. The codependent enabler often truly believes they are acting out of love to help the person abusing drugs or alcohol, but in all actuality, they end up contributing to the continuation of the problem. The other side of this is that the addict becomes dependent on this enabling behavior. Then, the enabler becomes dependent on trying to fix or help the addict, typically at the cost of his or her own happiness. When an enabler in the codependent relationship realizes they are sacrificing who they are, what they believe in or that their efforts are going unrecognized, this can lead to anger, depression, and frustration.
Codependent SymptomsCodependent behavior can most often be associated with characteristics such as:
- Inability to be alone
- Emotionally charge reactions
- Attempts to fix other people
- Control issues
- People pleasing
- Fear of rejection
- Tendency to have confusion between love and pity
- Outbursts of anger
- Low self-worth
- Extreme need for approval of others
- Need for recognition and feelings of severe hurt when their efforts are not recognized
- Abandonment fears
- Lying or dishonest behavior
- Difficulty adapting to change or identifying feelings
Getting Help for Codependent RelationshipsDrug and alcohol abuse commonly goes hand in hand with codependency. This is why it is important for not only the addiction to be treated, but also for the habits inside that relationship to be treated as well as understood for future relationships. The first step to fixing unhealthy behaviors such as codependent relationships is to fully understand what it means and how it affects the bond between people. Both parties in a codependent relationship should seek therapy to help understand their contribution to the issues. This will help everyone involved to form healthier ways of communicating, relating, and reacting inside of a relationship. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and codependency help is available. Contact us today to learn more about programs around codependent relationships and substance abuse.
Written by: Carly Benson As an avid traveler, yogi & confessed self-help junkie, Carly writes about her adventures in life & sobriety on MiraclesAreBrewing.com, where she offers inspirational concepts for enlightenment, spirituality, and embracing epicness.