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How Codependency and Addiction Work Together

When an individual experiences addiction, it often has a negative impact on their interpersonal relationships. As a result, a state of codependency can develop, with the addicted individual and their partner both relying on the other’s dysfunction. A feedback loop develops, as each disorder perpetuates the other.


What is Codependency and How is It Developed?

Codependency refers to the mutual dependence an addict and his or her spouse has on one another’s dysfunction. A codependent partner might derive feelings of self-worth from their ability to minister to the addict’s problems and needs, even though this is only perpetuating the problem.

Codependency can develop when certain personality types that are willing to neglect their needs for those of someone else interact with individuals with a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders can play into the role of codependency, as well as mental health conditions like Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, which can lead to self-esteem issues that feed codependent cycles.

Codependent Relationships and Drug Addiction

Where there’s addiction, you’ll often find codependency. In a relationship involving an a person struggling with addiction, the codependent partner will often attempt to help but do so in a way that perpetuates the problem. This might include helping the addicted individual hide their actions from others, cleaning up after them or ignoring their problem and its consequences, or even continuing to accept their apologies when you know they’re empty.

Because of this, recognizing when codependency is a factor in a relationship is vital for combating addiction. As with other co-occurring conditions — including addiction and depression or addiction and anxiety disorders — the codependency and addiction will need to be treated together in order for both problems to go away.

For more information, visit Beachway’s Codependency and Addiction page.

Providing Help for Your Addicted Partner

If you’re in a relationship with someone suffering from addiction, it’s natural to want to help, but it’s critical that your help doesn’t turn into enablement. Lending an addicted family member money, helping them cover up the consequences of their actions, and lying to your children about your partner’s condition can all be forms of enablement.

It is possible, however, to help an addicted loved one and not become codependent in the process. Recognizing that your family member’s addiction is not your fault and that it requires professional treatment is an important first step. It can also be a good idea to help yourself by joining a support group.

Family Roles in Addiction and Codependency

Addiction affects not just the addict, but their family as a whole, reshaping the group’s dynamics. Addiction places stress on interpersonal relationships and can negatively impact the addict’s life; family members can react by doing things out of love that are actually hurting the addict and perpetuating their disorder.

In healthy families, each person adopts a specific role or multiple roles that helps the family function. The same is true of families beset by addiction. The family’s roles will adjust to the addict’s new behaviors to maintain a sense of order which is typically unhealthy. There are some common roles that family members may adopt in cases of addiction and codependency. The victim, typically the addict, will often feel shame for their behavior and will end up blaming their family for their problems. The hero, often the partner, may work to control the problem and cover it up, ultimately denying that there is a problem and preventing the addict from receiving help.

For more information, visit Beachway’s Family Roles and Addiction page.

Beachway Therapy Center provides high-quality and innovative care to address various mental health issues. To learn more, visit us here.