What is Codependency?
Codependency is a behavioral trait related to mental health related to an emotional, physical, or mental reliance on a friend, family member, or romantic relationship. People who are codependent fundamentally have low self-esteem, sense of self, and inability in setting boundaries, including not being able to say no or have an opinion. Often, substance abuse and codependent traits appear together. Both can be treated with behavioral therapy.
How Does Codependency Relate to Addiction?
Frequently, individuals with codependent traits have substance abuse issues. Both codependency behavior and substance abuse result in feelings of shame and guilt. Feelings that can lead to substance abuse as a way to cope and deal with your low self-worth.
Another way it relates to several forms of addiction, is that the codependent person in the relationship is the partner of the addict. People who are codependent will do anything to save the relationship and take care of the addict, including making excuses for their negative actions associated with drug and alcohol addiction, such as losing their job or spending the family’s savings on drugs. This creates what is known as codependent relationship. A codependent person often finds self-worth in taking care of someone in need or a sick person. The person with codependency behavior may want the person to continue abusing drugs and alcohol so they can take care of them, which puts their addiction recovery at risk. Codependent individuals are also people pleasers, so they may fold to their drug addicted partner demands and excuses. Their codependency behavior may inadvertently enable their drug or alcohol abuse.
7 Codependency Warning Signs
1. Lack of Boundaries. A codependent relationship usually has one person who has difficulty setting boundaries and the other who doesn’t recognize the other’s healthy boundaries. One person is manipulative and controlling, while the other is conforming and fails to assert their own will.
2. Poor Self-Esteem. Usually, both codependent people have low self esteem or sense of self. They need the approval of the other or to be of service to have a sense of purpose.
3. Poor Communication. The caregiver in the codependent relationship often cannot express their needs or may not even be aware of their needs, for fear of upsetting the other person. There is often dishonest communication and not a sign of a healthy relationship.
4. Reactivity. Feeling and taking responsibility for someone else’s well being or feelings can make the codependent person react defensively or easily internalize criticism.
5. Caretaking. One of the major signs of codependency is the feeling you need to take care of everyone all the time and taking responsibility for their happiness. Usually it is out of fear that something bad will happen if you don’t take care of them.
6. People Pleased. It is normal to want people to like you and have loved ones be happy. But pleasing people feels like taking responsibility for others’ happiness. They do not say no, even when it interferes with their own healthy boundaries.
7. Relationship Stress. Both codependent people can feel stressed in the relationship, which stems from being afraid to be alone but actually feeling empty and not being particularly happy.
Treatment for Addiction and Codependency at Quantum
The most effective form of treatment for those with substance use disorder and codependency behavior is dual diagnosis, with treatments like dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. At Quantum Behavioral Health Services, helping those with addiction and their loved ones fix a codependent relationship part of our addiction treatment. It is essential to break toxic relationship traits to fully move forward in addiction treatment and recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and codependency behavior, please give us a call at (609) 993-0733 to learn more about our treatment center and dual diagnosis treatments.