Addiction and Relationships: Overcoming Codependency

Overcoming codependency is entirely possible. However, it can seem like an impossible challenge when addiction is involved.

Not to mention if you include the aspect of enabling, which is especially detrimental for any person in active addiction. A person in active addiction is likely to emotionally, physically, and financially depend on their significant other. Telling the person no and setting boundaries may seem impossible, but it is necessary to help the person get better.

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Codependency: Signs and Symptoms of Relationship Imbalance

Similar to addiction, codependency can come in many shapes and forms. The one-sided relationship factor can ruin any relationship down to its core.

Starting with relationships, the two questions you need to ask are, do you over-extend yourself to meet every need of a partner or friend? Are you doing all the heavy lifting? Answering yes could indicate that you are in a codependent relationship.

TED Talk: The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

Symptoms of Codependency

  • Low self-esteem: This is a person that feels less than and often feels shame and guilt. The person is always comparing themselves to others.
  • People-pleasing: People that people- please will take the word no as an answer. The enabler has a high level of anxiety. They do everything in their power to make sure the other person has everything they need at the expense of their own needs.
  • Poor boundaries: Boundaries are an imaginary line between you and others. It divides up what is yours and someone close to you, which applies not only to your body, money, and belongings but also to your feelings, thoughts, and needs. That is principally where codependents will get into trouble. They have blurry or weak boundaries.
  • Care-taking: Helping because you feel sorry for the person or feel nobody else can help them. The enabler often gives in to the needs of the addict, no matter what strain it puts on the enabler.
  • Control: Having control makes everyone feel safe and secure, where enablers will often control the addict or vice-versa.
  • Dysfunctional communication: Codependent people often do not communicate too well and inconsistently.
  • Dependency: The codependent person feels that they always need to be around people to feel validation. They fear abandonment and being alone and will do anything not to be alone.
  • Intimacy issues: A person may have problems being close to someone in an intimate relationship. Additionally, they may have trouble maintaining a healthy sex life.
  • Painful emotions: This leads to stress and emotions that can be unbearable.

Codependency as it Relates to Addiction

When it comes to addiction, an individual will do anything to maintain it. The addict will lie, cheat, and steal from their family members.

Notably, most addicts have that one family member or friend that will do anything for them.

Unfortunately, addicts are resourceful and will take advantage of any situation to keep using.

There are many pitfalls to using drugs and alcohol, and that includes medical and financial issues. The individual may incur relationship or family struggles, injuries, and even incarceration.

When the abuser can continue to use without any repercussions, they may not face up to their problems until it is too late.

Defining Codependent Behaviors

Here are some examples of enabling behaviors to be aware of:

  • Taking over the responsibilities of the user
  • Making excuses or covering up errors and accidents for the user
  • Going along with the reasons why the addict is using substances
  • Helping the user get out of financial difficulty related to substance abuse
  • Cleaning up after the user

While a person enabling their significant others or loved one has good intentions, it can lead to disastrous results.

The enabler will do everything they can for the addict and may even try to protect them from consequences.

The enabler does this because they feel shame for the behavior of the addict.

Sometimes helping the addict is a way to distract from their issues.

However, enabling only prolongs the addiction. Enabling also sends the message to the addict that their behavior is okay.

You may feel the person will get over their addiction, and your support will help them get better. However, enabling will never be the answer. What the addict needs are a bit of tough love.

A person who is struggling with addiction needs to feel the gravity of their predicament.

If you continue to bail them out of every situation, they will continue their destructive behaviors. Answering how to overcome codependency can be easier said than done.

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Overcoming Codependent and Enabling Behaviors in Relationships

When you want to know how to fix a codependent relationship, you need to know that it is a tall mountain to climb. The question will become, how to stop being codependent?

When you or someone know is part of a codependent relationship, it can ruin your life like addiction does to a person. Fortunately, there are ways to break codependency that can help the addict and yourself.

One of the first things not to do is to take on the user’s problems as your own. If you get wrapped up in their problems, it can have disastrous consequences for you.

It can be hard to watch someone you care about suffer in the trenches of addiction, but it is not your fault, and you do not need to fix their problems.

Can a Professional Help Me With My Codependency Issues?

The only way to help is to talk to the user about their issue and support them in getting treatment or counseling.

It is imperative to communicate how and what their addiction is doing to them and everyone around them when having that conversation. Showing tough love is sometimes the best medicine in getting a person to recovery.

You may feel that you can fix someone, but enabling a person does more harm than good. Inside most codependent relationships, there will come the point where the addict does not need you anymore and can leave you with a mess that you have to clean up on your own.

There may even come a situation where you might have had enough of the individual using you and treating you poorly.

It is that time to tell the addict that you can no longer help them. It may be a challenge initially, but it will be better for both you and the addict in the long run.

Saying no to someone you care about might be the wake-up call an addict needs to realize they need help.

While getting a person to quit a bad habit can seem daunting, it is not impossible.

Rehab treatment programs are lifesaving and sometimes the last hope in getting a person to stop using drugs and alcohol. Know that you cannot solve how to overcome codependency on your own.

How Can I Help My Loved One Get Treatment for Addiction?

Getting help for a person you care about can be difficult, but it is essential to get them there before it is too late. When that person reaches out for help, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

That person is taking the first step in realizing what their addiction is doing to them and others. Someone needs to be there for that person and build them up as they go through the journey of sobriety.

The journey to sobriety involves a lot of hard work and a lot of courage. Treatment enables people to counteract the powerfully disruptive effects of drugs on the brain and their behavior. 

Additionally, treatment can help individuals regain control of their lives. Like many diseases, it can take several attempts at treatment before you find the right approach. However, you can assure your loved ones that you will be supportive of their ongoing courageous effort.

Every person that gets helps for addiction has a different story to tell. How they got to where they are at can differ tremendously. Therefore, in treating addiction, each individual will need a unique approach to therapy.

A therapist might suggest when a person goes to treatment that you avoid or maintain very little contact. When an addict has little interaction with the outside world, it can make treatment more effective.

The addict must bear in mind that they have outside support as long as they try to get better.

Once a person has gone through treatment and is living a clean and sober life, it is vital to be mindful when around them.

Learn their triggers and stay away from any that may encourage a relapse. The more a person can devote to their sobriety, the more successfully they can remain sober.

How to End the Codependency Dance Today

Codependency is detrimental to any relationship. Enabling someone with an addiction is the worst thing to do as it only furthers their destructive behavior. Sometimes, it is even akin to slowly helping to kill them.

Enabling an addicted loved one also puts the enabler at risk of the consequences of addiction. There comes the point where enough is enough.

Helping an addict can be a revolving door of issues that often ends disastrously. More so, it is likely that resentment between the two people is now greater.

There are ways to break codependency, but addiction can complicate that. Addiction is a disease that does not care who or what it destroys.

Addiction ruins jobs, depletes bank accounts, ruins relationships, and sometimes ends lives. You can stand up to addiction and beat it by going into a treatment program.

Fighting addiction takes a lot of work, but it does not have to be done alone. In fact, recovery should never be attempted alone. Treatment will shine the light on what got you to start using drugs and alcohol in the first place.

A person will learn to avoid the traps addiction presents in the real world through therapy and counseling. It takes a strong commitment and helps create better and productive habits to live in a world of temptation.

Sources of Information

[1] Drugabuse.gov
[2] Psych Central
[3] Codependency and Addiction Guide

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ABTRS Writers

ABTRS Writers

The ABTRS Writing team is a group of writers specializing in addiction and recovery topics.

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