Addiction affects millions of people and it is one of the most harrowing and difficult things a person can experience in their life. 

Substance dependence is often made all the worse by codependence. When codependency and addiction come together, this causes the person suffering from addiction to keep doing their drug of choice. 

However, there are ways to break the cycle of codependency and addiction. So, if you are dealing with the co-occurrence of these struggles, know that there is hope. Simply read this guide carefully to find out if your relationship exhibits codependency symptoms, and how you can free yourself and your loved one from the vicious cycle. 

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Addiction? 

To tackle and learn about codependency in addiction, you need to learn what kind of addiction you’re dealing with. The symptoms of a person’s addiction can vary depending on what substance he or she is addicted to. 

Still, as a general rule, if a person hides their habit from the majority of their friends and family and feels incapable of functioning normally without it, they’re addicted to it. 

Some physical signs of substance dependence can include the following: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of self-care and hygiene
  • Frequent appearance of tiredness

Sometimes, those who are struggling with substance dependence show signs of defensiveness when people address them about their substance use. This can certainly be a sign of addiction. 

Also, your loved one may be suffering from drug or alcohol dependence if he or she seems to have lost interest in once enjoyable activities. This could include isolation from friends and family members or a lack of the desire to play sports or engage in a hobby. 

If you notice that a person is experiencing uncharacteristic mood swings or is more irritable than usual, they may be having cravings, or suffering from early stages of withdrawal. 

Again, there are many signs of addiction, and withdrawal signs can also vary depending on the type of substance a person is using. However, one thing remains true: addiction is a serious matter and individuals who suffer from it will experience its effects in many areas of their lives. In many cases, this includes relationships.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of behavior where someone puts the needs of someone else ahead of their own. Often, codependency in a relationship shows itself through a person’s constant need to tend to his or her partner. In many codependent relationships, one partner will work to fulfill the other individual’s emotional, physical, and mental needs regardless of the amount of energy and self-neglecting behaviors it takes to do so.

In a relationship where someone is dependent on a substance, this usually manifests in the other person being a “caretaker”. The person in a caretaker role will often enable the struggling individual’s behavior.

Codependency symptoms include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty saying no, especially to their partner 
  • Feeling like loved ones need to be controlled 
  • A fierce, unnatural desire to be liked; “people-pleasing”
  • Feeling the need to always be in a relationship; obsessive need to be with a romantic partner
  • A strong drive to take care of other people while often neglecting personal needs
  • Lack of boundaries (i.e. offering unwanted opinions or advice, feeling responsible for others’ feelings, etc.)

Codependency can have a damaging effect on relationships. It can cause unhealthy relationships to develop or cause harmful results in a once healthy relationship. 

About Addiction and Codependency in Relationships

When it comes to addiction and codependency, it’s important to realize that each relationship differs. Some codependent relationships may involve 2 individuals who suffer from addiction. Others may involve one partner who struggles with substance dependence and one “caretaker”. 

In other cases, children of parents who suffer from addiction may take on a caretaker role. They may begin to care for their parents, covering for them or making excuses for their behaviors. These children may also begin to care for their younger siblings in the place of parents.

But, many times, the second example is one which people recognize in their own lives. Often, individuals who do not suffer from addiction may be in codependent relationships with individuals who have substance use disorders. 

Unfortunately, people in these positions endure the hardships of these relationships for a long time. They may struggle with the idea of helping their loved one or walking away from the relationship if things don’t change. 

But, codependent behaviors are harmful in every way. They are harmful to the individual who acts as a caretaker. Also, these behaviors are harmful to the person who is suffering from addiction as they tend to enable substance use.

Since this is the case, it’s absolutely necessary for those in a codependent relationship to get help immediately. 

What’s The Difference Between Codependence and Being Supportive?

It is possible to support someone with a substance abuse problem without enabling their behavior. Addiction and codependency can be overcome, and it starts by knowing how to be supportive. 

The first step to ridding yourself of codependence is to practice self-care and put your own needs first. This can feel difficult at first, especially given the compulsion many codependent partners feel compelled to take care of others at all times. 

The next thing that needs to be done to break codependency is to stop covering for the mistakes an individual makes. If a person who is suffering from addiction messes up and makes someone angry or hurt with their actions, they need to face the consequences of doing this.

By shielding them from consequences, they’ll feel more inclined to take risks and be reckless with their habit because they feel they’ll always have someone to protect them from their own mistakes. 

Being Codependent Can Make You An Enabler

Codependency can also be as simple as financing a person’s drug or alcohol use. Paying for a visit to a methadone clinic to make withdrawal easier is a good thing. But paying for someone’s fifth bottle of vodka in a week is just hastening the demise of the person who is struggling with substance dependence. 

Codependency and drug addiction will only intensify the challenges a drug user faces because the caretaker will enable their behavior. This allows individuals to continue using substances in a harmful way.  

How To Stop Enabling Behavior 

Feeling a strong need to take care of someone else makes breaking off from a codependent relationship harder. But these feelings can be channeled into something positive. Once you learn what codependency and its symptoms are, you can focus on more than just the individual who is struggling with addiction. 

Many people become addicted to a substance because their life is not going well and they feel that their drug of choice is the only thing that makes their life worth living. But identifying the external circumstances that make someone’s life harder and taking steps to fix them goes a long way in being supportive. Also, this can ultimately help those who are dealing with addiction to overcome their struggle with substance dependence. 

When To Get Professional Help for Addiction

Many people wait to get help for addiction until a particularly dangerous and traumatic event occurs or until they reach their lowest point, also known as “rock bottom”. But it doesn’t have to get to that point. People who are suffering from drug or alcohol misuse can turn their lives around before their addiction becomes life-threatening or leads to major health problems.

All it takes is for them to know that their circumstances will change and that they have people willing to support them throughout that change. Thankfully, this support is available here at Discovery Institute. We understand that addiction can have very negative effects on the lives of those who suffer from it. So, we work to provide the tools and resources people need in order to overcome substance dependence for good.

There is no time like the present to get help for addiction. So, if you have recognized the presence of addiction in your life, reach out to us today. Or, if you believe that someone you love is dependent on alcohol or drugs, you may need to stage an intervention.

Reaching out for help sooner than later will prove to be extremely helpful. In fact, it can even be life-saving. So, it’s important to get assistance in order to end substance dependence right away.

However, it is also important to take into account the possibility that your loved one will not want to get help. If you are in a relationship with someone who is living with addiction and does not want to get help, you should still reach out for support and guidance. With help from the right resources, you can learn how to avoid enabling addiction and you will also get the support you need in dealing with the effects of your loved one’s addiction.

You Can Take Your Life Back 

Although it can feel like the world around you is collapsing and the only worthwhile thing is your relationship with an individual who is suffering from addiction, you have to realize it doesn’t have to be that way. If you really want to help your loved one, there are treatment options that take each individual’s needs into account.

Whether your spouse is suffering from addiction or you have a parent or child who is struggling, help is available. You do not have to feel trapped in codependency or enabling behaviors anymore. 

If, on the other hand, you are dealing with an addiction in your own life, you can get the help you need today. Perhaps your partner or other loved one has tried to help but has only enabled your substance dependence. Or maybe you are currently feeling as though there is no way out of the maze of addiction. 

Abandoning your life to addiction is not sustainable. It might feel good at the moment, but soon enough it will take over. But turning your life around starts with cultivating a healthy relationship and letting go of the addiction. 

Whether you are suffering or you know someone else who is, it’s time to make a change. If you or someone you know needs help getting rid of addiction and fixing their codependent relationship, contact our admissions center today. Allow our team to help you and your loved ones find the freedom that comes with recovery. Begin your journey to a healthier and addiction-free life today.

How Can Discovery Institute Help Me and My Loved One?

No doubt, you’re wondering exactly how we can assist you and your loved one to overcome the effects of addiction. Well, there are several ways in which we work to help people end their struggle with substance dependence. 

At Discovery Institute, we offer:

  • Family Therapy – This therapeutic approach can help you and your loved ones to work through the issues addiction may have caused in your life. It can also help to repair broken relationships within the family unit.
  • Individual Therapy – Those who are dealing with addiction can benefit from individual therapy in many ways. Firstly, this type of counseling offers people a safe place to discuss the challenges they are facing as a result of addiction. Also, individual therapy encourages people to face things such as trauma, low self-esteem, harmful thought processes, and more.
  • Group Therapy – While in treatment for addiction, individuals can learn about addiction by hearing from other people on the road to recovery. In group therapy, people can share their challenges and victories without fear of judgment.
  • Treatment for Dual Diagnosis – Often, people who suffer from addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders. A dual diagnosis program can help those who are living with addiction and mental illness as they work to overcome substance dependence.
  • Relapse Prevention Training – It can be difficult to stay on track during and after treatment for addiction. Relapse prevention skills can help people to avoid resorting to substance use. 

We are committed to helping each individual who comes to us for treatment. We will work to meet each specific and unique need. So, if you or someone you know needs help, allow us to offer our services. For more information about our treatment programs, just contact us today!

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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