Codependency is quite common in relationships where substance abuse is occurring. Typically, the addict is cared for by their partner. This leads to enabling and codependency. The partner then takes on the role of a caretaker. Such a situation is common for people who have been raised with an addicted parent, which brings in the role of family in codependency. Unfortunately, this typically translates to taking care of a parent and eventually taking care of their partner in a codependent relationship. If this sounds like you, then you may need to consider why you have codependent relationships with addicts.
Codependent relationships are toxic situations where one partner is a caretaker for the other. The caretaker in these relationships typically drops their wants and needs to put the addict’s needs first. This can enable the addiction, but also lead to the caretaker being controlling. It is important to recognize the signs, to avoid getting into a codependent relationship yourself.
If you think you might be in a codependent relationship, you might wonder what it looks like. You may also wonder, are addiction and codependency related? They are often seen to go hand in hand for a variety of reasons. Consider the following signs of a codependent relationship.
Taking Responsibility for a Partner’s Problems
In situations of codependency, it is very common for one partner to take responsibility for the other partner’s problems. For example, in cases of addiction, this leads to pressure being put on the partner of the addict. If this person feels that they are responsible for holding the addict together, it can be a lot of work and stress. Sometimes this can lead to the worsening of addiction as well.
It can be hard to understand what is toxic versus dysfunctional in relationships, but one sign is that it makes one partner feel unloved because the addict is using. An addict is not going to use because they have a choice, but because an addiction becomes a number one priority. Sometimes attempts to help an addict stop using can also be met with hostility, which can cause problems and hurt.
One of the most common signs of codependency is putting a partner’s needs before that of oneself. There is a line between being loving and helpful, and then going above and beyond to please your partner. You should not need to work to gain the affection of a partner and is considered to be very toxic.
Sometimes when it comes to a codependent relationship the caretaker will fear that the partner is going to leave them. Because of this, they may try so hard to “save” the other partner, that they will neglect their own issues. This can lead to obsessive behavior.
One common sign of codependency is a lack of accountability. Because many addicts can be abusive, and neglectful of responsibilities, it leads a caretaker to fix things when they go wrong. Rather than holding them responsible, the caretaker often allows them to continue on. Not holding a partner responsible allows them to continue their behavior.
There are many risks of codependency in relationships, but the dynamics of codependent relationships are easy to spot. One of those risks is that as a caretaker you may offer assistance that can lead to the partner relying on you for basic needs. Eventually, this can lead to manipulating them with shame or guilt if they do not listen to you. This is a huge red flag and is very toxic.
When someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, they often do not realize it until they hit a low point in their life. Even then, sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to stop using. If you make excuses for your partner who is using, then it makes it easier for them to continue their behavior. This is a common enabling behavior. Although you do not want to allow for victimhood and blaming the victim, you also do not want to make excuses.
Sometimes the enabling partner may have a pattern of choosing partners with addiction. If you notice the signs of this in your life, then it may be because you are a codependent person. You could be making your partner’s addiction worse, because of your behaviors.
Therefore, if it is not your first relationship with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol, you should look at yourself. If you are taking on the role of a caretaker, why are you taking on that role? Then you should ensure that you are not looking to control someone by enabling their addiction.
12 Steps for Codependents
If you are in a relationship with an addict, you may wonder, can addicts have healthy relationships? It is possible, but it does take a lot of work and an understanding of the importance of boundaries. Because codependent relationships are somewhat of an addiction to one another, there are also 12 steps for codependents. This is similar to that of AA or NA because sometimes codependency can mirror addiction.
In fact, Codependents Anonymous (CODA) is a real group that helps people recover from the unhealthy tendencies in their relationships. It also helps them to build their own self-esteem and learn healthy relationship practices.
If you or someone you love is suffering from codependency and addiction, come into The Discovery House. We offer treatment programs with everything from medical detox to inpatient or outpatient programs.
Whether you want to go to therapy with your partner to help with codependency, or they want to simply start off in treatment, both are possible. Contact us today to see how The Discovery House can help you and your loved one, so you can be codependent no more.