Codependency in Addiction: Knowing When to Put Yourself First

Here at Drug Treatment Center Finder, the disease of addiction is typically the main focus. However, you can’t really discuss addiction without discussing some of the afflictions and situations that tend to befall those who suffer from addiction. Codependency in addiction often an issue with people who use, and it’s an especially concerning when you consider that it can directly contribute to a person’s development and severity of active addiction. 

What Exactly is Codependency?

But what is codependency? How can a person determine whether or when he or she is in a codependent relationship? Why is codependency in addiction so dangerous? How can someone suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction overcome codependency?

That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about right now. When two people become extremely close, it’s not typically considered a bad thing. Unless the person to whom you’ve grown extremely close is a bad influence and trying to force a person to make extremely destructive, dangerous decisions. Otherwise, closeness is typically a resource, something on which both parties come to depend — to a healthy degree — since they can source strength from one another, offer advice and encouragement, and motivate one another to achieve goals and success.

However, there’s a dark side to intense dependence between two people. If two people become so dependent that they reach a point where each of them are actually enabling bad behavior in order to be relevant and important to one another, the relationship is referred to as a codependent relationship.

By definition, codependency is a form of dysfunctional “helping” relationship in which one person supports, or essentially enables, the bad happens or self-destructive tendencies of the other; the most common examples include when one person supports the other’s addiction, poor mental health, irresponsibility, immaturity, under-achievement, or some other type of behavior that prevents the person from health, achievement, and/or happiness.

More often than not, codependency is a learned behavior rather than one that is genetic; this means that successive generations observe codependency from previous generations, adopting it for themselves as they mature and begin establishing their own social connections.

How Do I Know If I’m in a Codependent Relationship?

In many cases, people are unaware that they’re in codependent relationships. For addicts, they often just assume that they’re manipulating someone into helping them sustain their substance abuse habits while the codependent individual makes peace with the fact that they’re assisting the other person’s self-destruction for their own benefit. One way to identify a codependent relationship is if the relationship in question seems or appears to be very “one-sided”, which means that the relationship lacks balance in that it’s clearly more beneficial to one party while either being of no benefit or being actually harmful to the other party. Additionally, the following are some of the most common signs of a codependent relationship:

  • You may experience difficulties forming boundaries with those close to you
  • You may experience problems in intimate relationships
  • You may frequently confuse feelings of love with feelings of pity
  • You may want to “save” and “rescue” others, and devote ample time to doing so
  • You may feel an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
  • You may do more than your share in numerous settings; at home, at work, in nearly every aspect of your life
  • You may feel hurt and upset when those around you do not recognize your efforts
  • You may have an unhealthy dependence on relationships – you never feel safe or content by yourself; you need others to maintain personal serenity
  • You may feel extremely guilty when asserting yourself in situations, or when disagreeing with someone
  • You may have difficulties identifying your own feelings; you may be out of touch with your own needs and desires
  • You may feel the need to control those around you
  • You may have extreme difficulty making decisions, and rely on others to make decisions for you
  • You may experience extreme fears of being abandoned or alone

Why Is Codependency Such a Bad Thing?

Codependency is detrimental to both parties, and the same goes for codependency while in active addiction. While it may seem that the relationship is beneficial to one party and harmful to the other, in the case of addiction the codependent relationship causes the addict’s substance abuse problem to become increasingly severe while the other party continues to feel insecure, demeaned, and likely even guilt for allowing the addict’s chemical problem to continue. In short, it’s an incredibly toxic situation that warrants extensive counseling for both parties.

For the addict, he or she mostly needs substance abuse counseling since the codependent relationship mostly serves him or her as a function of continued addiction, but the other individual needs counseling to help him or her develop an improved sense of self-concept.

Choose Life: Call Drug Treatment Center Finder Today

If you or someone you love would like a free consultation, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. Call us at 1-855-619-8070 to speak with one of our recovery specialists who can help you or your loved one take the first step on the journey to health, happiness, and lasting sobriety.