Codependency and Substance Use
What is Codependency?
Codependency behavior refers to an emotional, physical, or mental reliance on a partner, friend, or family member. Codependent relationships can sometimes be referred to as an addiction to another person. Originally, the term was coined in the 1950s in Alcoholics Anonymous to support partners of those with substance abuse, and who were interwoven in the toxic lives of those they cared for dealing with substance abuse and addiction. A codependent person is not categorized as having mental health issues. It incorporates aspects of attachment style patterns developed in early childhood, sometimes categorized under personality disorder. Often, codependency and addiction occur together and can be treated with behavioral therapy.
Signs and Symptoms of Codependency
Codependent relationships refers to an imbalanced relationship pattern between two people where the codependent person assumes responsibility for meeting the other person’s needs (sometimes with those with substance use disorders), often neglecting their own needs. Symptoms of codependency include:
- Inability to identify your feelings
- Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the behaviors of others
- Valuing the approval of others more than yourself
- Trouble communicating in the relationship
- Having an unhealthy reliance on relationships, even at your own cost
- Lacking trust in yourself and having low self esteem
- Fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval
- Difficulty making any decisions in the relationship
- Regularly trying to change or rescue their partner’s addiction, troubled, or under-functioning people who’s problems go beyond one person’s ability to fix them.
How Does Codependent Relationships Relate to Substance Abuse?
Often, recovering addicts with substance use disorders have codependency as a co-occurring disorder. Both substance abuse and codependency lead to feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can lead to substance abuse as a way to hide from yourself.
Also, sometimes where there’s an addiction to drugs, you can usually find codependent partners. Codependent individuals can make excuses for those with alcohol and drug addiction negative actions including losing a job, spending the family’s savings on drugs, and lawsuits, creating addiction codependency. At times, this codependent person wants the alcohol or drug addict to remain sick so they can take care of them, which will jeopardize their addiction recovery efforts. This can create a cycle of codependency and drug abuse. As a people pleaser, the codependent person may fold under the pressure to accommodate the demands of their alcohol or drug addicted codependent partners and inadvertently their codependency behavior is supporting their drug abuse.
Are Codependent Relationships a Form of Addiction?
Sometimes codependent relationships are referred to as “relationship addiction” because the codependent person often forms or maintains relationships that are one-side and emotionally destructive or abusive. Alcohol and drug abuse and addiction is a complex, brain disease related to mental health issues that is characterized by compulsive substance abuse despite harmful consequences. Although you could make the case for codependent partners having a form addiction, it is not widely accepted as such but as psychological characteristics. However, it took many decades for drug and alcohol addiction to be accepted, so who is to say codependency may also be one day and include therapies similar to drug addiction treatment.
What is the Difference Between Codependency and Addiction?
The main difference between alcohol or drug addiction and codependency behavior is that drug addiction is regarded as a chronic disease and mental health issues. Codependency behavior does not even fall under mental health issues and disorders, but psychological issues. However, often the two can be a co-occurring disorder. Although there are studies showing that people can become addicted to love and relationships, they are not widely accepted concepts.
How We Can Help
At DayBreak Treatment Solutions, our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs include family therapy and family programs as part of addiction treatments to help heal relationship conflicts and dynamics that may be attributing to the person’s alcohol or drug addiction. Helping family members realize codependency behavior may be enabling the person, can lead to better relationships and a healthy support system outside of addiction treatments.
Drug abuse can also lead to codependent relationships. Our dual diagnosis and behavioral therapy program can also aid in treating a co-occurring disorder and treating codependency. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction with codependent relationships, please give us a call today at (844) 695-0083.