Addiction codependency is not as talked about much as addiction itself. However, the two do together and are involved in a mutually destructive cycle as both the addicts and the codependents develop maladaptive coping strategies.
When it comes to family, marriage, and relationships, part of it all is love, devotion, working through obstacles and sharing burdens together. However, when it comes to addiction codependency, sharing the burden of addiction can do more harm than good.
What is codependency?
Codependency refers to a relationship where a destructive, maladaptive pattern is developed. Someone who is a codependent puts the addict’s needs before their own. What you may not know, however, is that both codependency and addiction can occur and reinforce each other. The addict becomes the center of the codependent’s world and priorities, taking on a caretaker and “savior” role.
In addiction codependency, things can be taken to the extreme that the caretaker can’t make an independent decision about their life without thinking about the addict. Furthermore, a range of unhealthy behavior can also surface on both sides.
Causes of codependency
Codependency was first noticed by psychotherapists treating clients with alcoholism. This was way back in the 1950s, when they observed that spouses or partners helped the addicts maintain addictive behavior.
A range of factors can contribute to addiction codependency, such as chemical imbalance in the brain, childhood trauma, experiences, current life situation, addiction history, mental or personality problems, and past relationships.
Symptoms of codependency
Those who have codependent behavior or are considered addiction codependents often display the following:
- low self-esteem
- feeling shame, embarrassment, guilt, inadequacy, helplessness, hopelessness
- feeling a need for perfection
- needing to please people
- need to make people happy
- difficulty saying “No”
- difficulty creating healthy boundaries
- needing to control people, situations or their own feelings
- poor communication skills
- having anxiety and fears
- thinking about what people will think or say
- being dependent on other people or things
- intimacy issues
- having painful experiences or childhood
- having depression
- feeling deep resentment and despair
Effects of Codependency
People with addiction face many problems connected to their habits. These problems include:
- work or professional issues
- financial problems
- health problems
- high-risk behaviors
- social and relationship problems
With addiction codependency in play, the codependent supports the addict throughout these tribulations. Often, they even clean up the addict’s messes and mistake, or cover up for them. They even solve the problems the addicts create, as well as provide money and support so the addict continues with their addiction.
While the addiction can be treated in rehabilitation facilities such as Bridges of Hope, the codependency is harder to treat. Codependents don’t usually see the harm that they’re doing. After all, most would say they mean well and have only the welfare and safety of the addicted loved one.
This is why codependency is best treated along with addiction treatment through couple’s therapy, dialogues, and counseling.