The relationship between codependency and addiction
First of all, what is codependency?
Psychology Today defines it as ‘when two people with dysfunctional personality traits become worse together. Enmeshment happens when clear boundaries about where you start and where your partner ends are not clearly defined.’ Psychology Today
In codependent relationships, often one partner, or in many cases always, puts the other’s needs before their own.
Codependency and Aaddiction
The two are often closely related — codependent behaviour was first associated with partners of alcoholics. People who have codependent behaviours often have the following symptoms:
Low self-esteem resulting from shame, guilt, feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism
Want to control situations, people, and their own feelings
Need to make others happy; difficulty saying ‘no’
Struggle to create healthy boundaries and distinguish responsibility for actions
Obsess about other people and their own anxieties/fears
Poorly developed communication skills
Issues with intimacy
Dependency on other people.
Depression, resentment, and despair
Why do people become codependent?
In the 1950s, therapists treating alcoholics noticed that often there was a spouse or significant other who enabled the addiction.
What they found was that the codependent person provides support to the addict — they could be trying to help the person to get clean and sober — and if this doesn’t happen, they continue to ‘help’. And to endure the problems that arise with being in a relationship with someone who has an addiction.
It’s believed a range factors contribute to codependent behaviour including:
- chemical imbalances in the brain
- childhood experiences
- past relationships
- current life situation
- addiction history
The codependent in the relationship frequently helps the addict to engage in harmful behaviours by cleaning up, covering for them, and providing money and other forms of support.
Breaking Codependency and Change
Remember, both people in a codependent relationship need to change. Both are trying to control something — whether it’s to avoid feelings and life by engaging in the addiction, or to manage the other person and their behaviour. There is help available for both of you to find a healthier way to be in the relationship and to get clean and sober.
For further information, feel free to contact us.