One of the worst parts of addiction is how far-reaching it can be. Oftentimes, addiction is depicted in movies and TV as really only affecting one person, the person with an addiction. However, sadly, addiction impacts those around nearly as much as it does to the individual.
Though typically not in a physical sense, addiction can have an impact on a loved one or even an entire family’s emotional and social well-being. This is due, in part, to the risk of codependency, wherein family members attempt to maintain some sort of stability by enabling the addicted individual. They are probably trying to help, but in the long run, it can only make things worse; in short, codependency and addiction are a toxic combination.
While addiction can be one of the most difficult things to recover from, sobriety is possible. If you or a loved one want to become sober, there is help available. Call us at 626-602-2966 to learn about your options for treatment and recovery. Let us make this challenging journey a little easier for you.
Keep reading on for more information about codependency and addiction. If you require additional support then please reach out to our specialists today.
Put simply, codependency is an unhealthy degree of trust and reliance on a partner, friend, or family member; however, it entails much more than that, especially in regard to addiction. The term itself dates back to the 1950s and originates from Alcoholics Anonymous. They used it as a means to describe partners of those who abused substances and found themselves caught in the tangled lives of those they cared for. However, the term has since evolved, encompassing a spectrum of behaviors and circumstances.
Though no two relationships are the same, most codependent relationships have some similarities. They all have a point where one partner begins to rely on the other – whether mentally, physically, or even monetarily. Once this has been established, the reliant partner will do whatever is necessary to keep the other happy, regardless of their own happiness.
To make matters worse, when codependency intertwines with addiction the sober person will often start to make major decisions for their addicted partner, tell them what to do, and even limit their ability to act independently. Although the codependent, sober partner thinks they are helping, they are often doing more harm than good. Codependency like this leads individuals to enable and even perpetuate a loved one’s addiction. In making excuses for the addicted partner’s behavior and helping them avoid the full consequences of their affliction, the sober partner actually helps the addiction continue.
Of course, no one wants the people they love to suffer or be in trouble. But ultimately, protecting a person from the consequences of their addictive behavior only leads to more pain later on.
Signs of Codependency in a Relationship
Codependency comes is a multitude of forms. There is no one way for a codependent relationship to play out. Often, the people in the relationship do not even realize it is codependent. However, there are signs of codependency one can look for when analyzing a relationship:
- Feeling like you are walking on eggshells to avoid conflict with the other person.
- Needing to check in with your partner constantly and ask permission to do everyday tasks.
- Being the one who apologizes most often — even after doing nothing wrong.
- Feeling sorry for your partner, even when they are the one who hurt you.
- Regularly trying to change or rescue your partner – whether from addiction or something else that cannot feasibly be changed by one person.
- A willingness to do anything and everything for the other person, even when it makes you uncomfortable.
- Putting the other person on a pedestal.
- A need for others to like you.
- Struggling to find time for yourself, especially if any free time constantly goes to helping or serving your partner.
- Feeling as though you may have lost your sense of self.
- Taking responsibility for your partner’s actions.
- Potential low self-esteem due to feelings of shame or inadequacy.
Not all of these signs will appear in every codependent relationship, but they are representative of what many relationships dealing with codependency and addiction entail. No matter how loving a person is, addiction and relationships do not mix well. Contact our professionals today if you or someone you love needs help battling addiction.
Marriage, Codependency, and Addiction
Sadly, addiction affects all kinds of relationships, but one that consistently falls victim to addiction is marriage. In a study headed by the Family Research Institute at the Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, the researchers sought to examine and understand codependent relationships between women and men with addictions.
The study selected 140 women, half of whom had husbands with an addiction. Unsurprisingly, the 70 women whose husbands had an addiction were more likely to be codependent. While not all of these women actually were codependent, there was more codependency in this group than in the women whose husbands did not have addiction issues.
The researchers also found that the woman who were codependent demonstrated traits of neuroticism. In general, people who are neurotic experience more negative feelings, such as anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Feelings like these allow unhealthy, codependent relationships to flourish.
However, just because a relationship is made unhealthy by codependence, addiction, or a combination of the two does not mean it can never be healthy again. In marriage, two people make the commitment to stay together “in sickness and in health.” Addiction is a powerful sickness, but it can be beaten. And though the path to sobriety is definitely an uphill climb, the right treatment can assist in lasting recovery.
Codependency and addiction hurt both people, and they will both need to heal. Yet, one of most beneficial things for a person in recovery from addiction is support, especially the support of loved ones. This can make all the difference in creating lasting recovery. So, when someone asks, “what is codependency in addiction?” the answer is simple. It’s a complication of the addict’s illness. And when one asks, “what is the solution?” the answer is communication, treatment, and support.
How to Avoid Enabling an Addiction
In most codependent relationships, the person without an addiction is trying to help their partner. They have the best intentions. Sadly though, the kind of help they provide is often not the help someone with an addiction truly needs. While it can be hard to convince someone they need help, it is necessary for recovery to begin. Otherwise, you are just enabling the addiction. Some examples of enabling behavior include:
- Taking responsibility for one’s partner
- Making excuses or covering for one’s partner
- Agreeing with a partner’s excuses or reasons for substance abuse
- Helping one’s partner financially when troubles are substance abuse-related
- Cleaning up after one’s partner
While these examples are not necessarily negative things to do for someone, they can become negative when addiction is involved. Though it is natural to want to protect a loved one, this shielding keeps that loved one from facing reality and seeing the need for recovery. As long as someone is there to save the day, the addicted person will never need to confront the addiction. Enabling, while good-intentioned, only postpones the inevitable consequences of addictive behavior. To avoid enabling a partner’s addiction, You should:
- Avoid taking responsibility for your partner’s actions
- Allow your partner to experience the consequences of their addictive behavior
- Refuse to accept guilt or blame when you’ve done nothing wrong
- Let your partner know how serious addiction is
- Urge them to seek treatment
Is there someone in your life that is suffering from addiction? Then call our experts today. We can help you and your loved one start a path to treatment today.
Addiction and Relationships
A person with an addiction is clearly a person who needs help, but codependency can often blur the lines between what kind of help is beneficial and what kind is harmful. No one sets out to enable their loved one’s addiction.
Most of the time, someone caught in a codependent relationship is just trying to maintain a semblance of stability for their partner and themselves. However, as hard as it may be to accept, maintaining stability for someone in active addiction is entirely counterproductive. Some beleaguered partners may recognize this but continue anyway for lack of a better idea. Whether it be due to a lack of confidence or an inability to see hope, it is the easier thing to do. However, to truly help, you must insist on treatment. Allowing the addiction to continue only hurts both people involved.
If you or your loved one has an addiction and needs treatment, we are here for you. Sobriety is not easy, but it is possible. Give us a call today at 626-602-2966. Our addiction specialists would be more than happy to discuss treatment options with you and get you the help you need.
Written by Richard Morris
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