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Codependency and Addiction

Codependency and addiction can create significant problems in relationships and family dynamics. When the partner of a person with an addiction displays codependent behaviors, they could contribute to their loved one’s addiction—without realizing it. However, much like addictive behaviors, therapeutic interventions can treat codependency in relationships.

At Harmony Place in Los Angeles, California, we’re here to help those struggling with addiction as well as their families. Addiction to drugs and alcohol—and co-occurring mental health disorders—affect families and loved ones as much as the person struggling. Codependent behaviors and addiction are often linked as a result.

How Are Codependency and Addiction Linked?

Codependency and addiction are linked because of how common codependent behaviors occur among spouses and family members of addicts. According to Mental Health America, codependency “was first identified . . . as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics.” 

In addition, codependency occurs frequently among loved ones of people with other chronic health conditions. For instance, living with family members with mental health disorders or medical disabilities can lead to codependent behaviors. Overall, the underlying factor for codependency is some level of family dysfunction.

Signs of Codependent Behavior

Codependent behaviors are likened to people-pleasing and enabling. These behaviors reflect a person’s low sense of self-esteem and need to find purpose in fixing a dysfunctional relationship. Furthermore, a codependent person could be “addicted” to unhealthy relationships.

Signs of codependent behavior include the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Unable to feel fulfilled without a relationship
  • Feel responsible for another person’s problematic behavior
  • Confuse love and pity—and try to “rescue” their loved ones
  • Trouble setting and maintaining boundaries in relationships
  • Helping others at the expense of their own needs
  • Need to control other people’s behaviors
  • Difficulty communicating feelings, needs, and boundaries
  • Obsessing or excessively worrying about their mistakes
  • Becoming defensive when others disagree with them
  • Problems making decisions
  • Feeling guilty when they stand up for themselves

While helping others and wanting intimacy are not problematic, for someone with codependency issues, these become obsessive needs. The person is unable to feel comfortable when they are not in a relationship with a healthy person. 

In other words, they need someone with problems that they can take care of. Hence, codependency and addiction tend to co-exist.

Similarities in Codependency and Enabling

There are similarities found in codependent behaviors and enabling. Enabling is usually a sign of codependency. When someone enables an addicted partner, they allow the addiction to continue, often without realizing it.

Enabling behaviors are common, especially among spouses of those with an addiction. For instance, the person might cover for their loved one when they miss work due to a hangover. Or, they could take on their household responsibilities when they are under the influence.

Like codependency, enabling reflects a lack of boundaries and an overwhelming feeling of responsibility for another’s behavior. Simply put, enabling behaviors are anything that shields a person from the consequences of their problematic behaviors.

Making Excuses for Their Addiction

Making excuses for another person’s problematic behaviors is a common part of codependency and addiction. These excuses enable the addicted person to continue their behaviors. Moreover, excusing the addiction brushes off the seriousness of it and could be a sign of denial.

Denial of the addiction leads both the addict and the codependent to make excuses. This could come in the form of minimizing the behaviors. However, excuses generally allow the addict to continue their behaviors.

Some excuses offered by codependents mirror the addict’s own excuses. For example, the addict might have been raised by an alcoholic. Thus, they feel like they cannot help themselves and are victims of their genetics or upbringing. And, the codependent could excuse the addiction—further enabling the addict’s self-victimizing excuse.

Since codependency and addiction are often tied together, many treatment facilities offer family support. They could also provide family therapy or encourage family members to find treatment. 

How Therapy Can Help

Therapy can help both the person with codependency and their loved one struggling with addiction. For one thing, when a person struggles with addiction, they need a support system that will set boundaries for their behaviors. So, a family member with untreated codependency could enable their loved one’s addiction following treatment, leading to a relapse.

On the other hand, many people with codependency issues don’t realize how they are contributing to the issue. Or, they are trying to genuinely help their loved one get help, yet they don’t have the skills to do so. Therapy can help a codependent find healthy ways to cope with their loved one’s addiction—without further enabling the behavior.

In addition, peer support groups can offer support and advice for codependents. The following support groups can help:

Support groups and therapy offer hope to those struggling with codependency and addiction.

Get Help for Codependency Today

The ripple effects of drug and alcohol addiction often extend beyond the individual grappling with the issue. Family members and other loved ones can inadvertently adopt detrimental behaviors in response to these challenges. In some instances, individuals with codependency issues may form relationships with those who are struggling, leading to a codependent relationship where each person perpetuates the others’ harmful behaviors.

Harmony Place, located in the heart of Los Angeles, California, is dedicated to providing support not only for individuals battling addiction but also for their families. We understand that codependency and addiction frequently coexist, and we are committed to helping you and your loved ones break free from these unhealthy cycles.

In our efforts to make recovery accessible, Harmony Place is proud to accept health insurance from numerous providers. This includes Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Blue Shield of CA, Carelon, and Humana, among others. Our goal is to alleviate the financial stress often associated with treatment, allowing you to focus on the journey towards healing.

Contact us today to begin treatment for codependent behaviors.