A person’s relationships can impact their life quality and chances of success and satisfaction. This is especially true for people living with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Having a robust social support network can mean the difference between lifelong sobriety and ongoing struggles with addiction.
In some cases, an unhealthy relationship can develop between two people if one of them lives with addiction. Codependency is an unhealthy relationship pattern that can cause emotional harm to both people in a relationship. It can impair someone’s ability to get the addiction treatment they need, which can worsen the addiction.
Without getting comprehensive addiction treatment, people living with a substance use disorder can face severe consequences to their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.
Understanding codependency and recognizing it may help you or someone you love as you navigate addiction. The better you understand this unhealthy relationship dynamic, the better you will be to identify and address it.
If you need addiction treatment or support during recovery, please reach out to the specialists at Recovery Centers to be connected to the programs and professionals you need.
What are Codependent Relationships?
Being able to trust and support another person–and receiving that same support–is a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship. However, sometimes a relationship pattern can turn into something unhealthy for both people. This is true when a relationship becomes codependent.
Codependent relationships can form between people when one partner is a caretaker and the other needs to be cared for. The person in the caretaker role may support their partner financially or emotionally. They may be afraid to stop performing this type of caretaking because of what they imagine may happen to their partner. People in this role often use a great deal of time and energy to make sure the other person is happy.
While this type of relationship is most common between romantic partners, it can also occur between parents and children, siblings, or other types of relationships. Codependency often develops when one member of the relationship lives with mental illness or addiction. This unhealthy relationship pattern can have a negative impact on both people’s lives.
Recognizing Codependent Relationships
Codependent relationships are rarely happy or satisfying ones. A relationship based on codependency can be emotionally draining or exhausting. It is a relationship based on meeting needs and playing roles rather than love, support, and acceptance.
There are specific, recognizable aspects of codependent relationships to consider. One or both members of the relationship may experience them. These include:
- Poor self-esteem or low self-worth
- Poor emotional and physical boundaries
- Difficulty differentiating between your partner’s and your own emotions
- Wanting to feel important to someone or to feel needed
- Caretaking behaviors
- Difficulty making decisions
Often, one person will want so desperately to be needed that they begin to make decisions based on what is best for their partner. This can lead to severe stress and dissatisfaction in the relationship. When their partner is living with addiction, it can also result in enabling behaviors.
What is Enabling?
It is known as enabling when someone works to counteract or cover for an addicted person’s behaviors or shortcomings. Enablers often work very hard to keep the peace in a relationship–often to their own detriment.
Some examples of enabling behaviors include:
- Lying to people about the addicted person’s behavior
- Doing things for the addicted person that they are capable of doing themselves, such as cleaning, grocery shopping, or paying bills
- Making excuses to family, law enforcement, or an employer
- Giving the addicted person money
- Cleaning up after the addicted person
- Bailing the addicted person out of jail
People in codependent relationships may avoid conflict at all costs because they fear that the other will become upset or angry. They may also take responsibility for their partner’s behaviors. This can prevent their partner from facing the consequences of their actions or realizing the depths of their problems. Putting an end to enabling behaviors is one of the first steps in convincing a loved one to go to rehab.
Exploring the Link Between Addiction and Codependency
When one person in the codependent relationship is addicted, the caretaker may invest a great deal of energy trying to shield their partner from experiencing the consequences of their addiction. This allows the addicted person to avoid many of the financial, legal, social, or physical aspects of addiction that often prompt people to seek treatment.
The longer a person with addiction goes without seeking treatment, the more severe their addiction can become. Without fully feeling the adverse effects of their addiction, the addicted person may be less inclined to get the help they need.
Learn More About Treating Addiction and Codependency by Contacting Recovery Centers
At Recovery Centers, we understand that relationships and addiction are complex issues. We also know that with the right treatment and support, anyone can recover from addiction.
Our specialists will connect you with the high-quality programs and supportive professionals you need to start your recovery journey. Reach out to Recovery Centers today to find a rehab center near you.