Codependent relationships occur when two people are extremely dependent on one another–either physically, socially, or emotionally. When one or both parties in a codependent relationship are dealing with addiction, getting through recovery is even more challenging.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse

When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, it’s important to understand the symptoms and signs that are usually seen in cases of substance misuse. Those who are struggling with substance abuse may become very different from their normal selves. So, their loved ones may not be sure how to help.

If you know someone who is suffering from an addiction problem, it will be helpful to know more about the common symptoms of substance abuse. With more information on this matter, you’ll be able to help your loved one while avoiding the dangers of codependency.

Some of the signs and symptoms of substance abuse may include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Failure to carry out responsibilities
  • Isolation and social withdrawal
  • Excessive drinking or drug use
  • Failure to attend school or work
  • Avoidance of friends and family members
  • Loss of interest in certain activities, people, and places
  • Defensiveness when confronted about substance use
  • Financial problems (due to supporting substance use habits)
  • Lack of self-care (poor hygiene, disheveled appearance, etc.)

Sadly, people may overlook many of the symptoms of drug abuse because they are not always obvious indicators of addiction.

In many cases of drug and alcohol abuse, people struggle to maintain healthy relationships with the people they care about. This can happen because addiction causes people to change emotionally, physically, and mentally. So, behavioral changes are common.

However, unhealthy relationships can also be a result of codependency. And, when addiction and codependency occur together, the results are never good.

Understanding the Dangers of Codependency and Addiction

In a codependent relationship where one person is dealing with substance abuse, the addicted individual often takes advantage of or uses the other partner.

Coincidentally, the partner that has to watch their loved one go through this addiction tries to shield their significant other from any related consequences. Sometimes, they may even intentionally or unintentionally enable their loved ones’ substance abuse habits.

If both partners are abusing substances together, it becomes even harder to enter into recovery. In a relationship where each partner has an addiction, both parties tend to enable the other. In some situations, the entire relationship is built on drug or alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of Codependency

Uncertain of what being codependent looks like? The following signs are common symptoms of codependency:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intimacy issues
  • Familial dysfunction
  • Fixating on mistakes
  • Confusing pity with love
  • A fear of abandonment
  • Needing to always be liked
  • Low emotional expressivity
  • Dishonest communication
  • A compulsion to care for others
  • Difficulty with setting boundaries
  • Always needing to be in control
  • Denying one’s own feelings, thoughts, and needs

This cocktail of symptoms and signs is often linked to codependency. It’s important to consult with a professional in order to see if codependency is truly a problem in your life. However, if you find that you are in a relationship where substance abuse is involved, it is never too soon to seek treatment.

How to Overcome Dependency Within a Relationship

Since codependency and addiction are so closely linked, individuals in a codependent relationship will find it even more challenging to enter into recovery. So, it’s important to learn how to best overcome codependency as this will help individuals to successfully recover from addiction, too.

If you’re in a codependent relationship, you may be unsure about how to overcome dependency. Whether the other individual, you, or both of you are struggling with addiction, you can overcome the effects of substance abuse and codependency on your relationship.

There are several things you can do in order to overcome codependency in your relationship. We’ll discuss a few ways in which you can face this problem head-on and gain freedom from it.

Be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your significant other. Come to terms with the truth about your relationship and identify the causes behind the problems you’re facing.

Understand the need for boundaries. Being with the person you love can sometimes make it hard to establish and honor boundaries. But, they are extremely important elements of healthy relationships. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for your partner’s actions. And avoid expecting them to feel guilty for yours.

Avoid justifying harmful behaviors. It’s easy to assume that you or someone else has a good reason for doing certain things. You can blame your excessive drinking on stress. You could blame your spouse’s painkiller abuse on the severity of his or her chronic pain. But, excuses and justifications often get in the way of success.

Get treatment for addiction and seek counseling for codependency. Thankfully, the programs available with inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab are designed to help anyone dealing with substance abuse overcome their addiction, as well as their codependency.

If your significant other is facing an addiction you must understand that the best option for them is to get treatment as soon as possible. While you can’t decide this for your partner, you can discontinue any of your own behavior that may be enabling them. If your partner makes the decision to get treatment, they will begin the road to recovery.

Treatment for Codependency and Addiction

Depending on the treatment program, an individual can be treated for both the substance abuse addiction, as well as codependency. While the drug or alcohol addiction will be addressed through the likes of intensive inpatient rehab, the codependency can be treated through counseling and therapy, which is also part of rehab programs.

For relationships where both partners are dealing with issues of addiction, as well as codependency, these partners may consider entering into a rehab center for couples.

Overcoming codependency and addiction takes both partners owning up to the reality of their relationship and their part in enabling or encouraging substance abuse. If you or someone you love is dealing with codependency, addiction, or any other related issue, there is hope!

Just contact us today to learn more about our various options for treatment at our New Jersey rehab center.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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