Codependency and Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment
- Feb 19, 2020
Healing from addiction is difficult, but when codependency and addiction occur together, recovery is even more difficult. In this article we will describe the meaning of codependency, the relationship between codependency and addiction, and its treatment.
Codependency is defined as an excessive reliance on a person, especially a partner who requires additional support due to an illness, mental health issue, general immaturity, or addiction. Within addiction treatment, codependency is often manifested by a strong force keeping a person chained to their drug of choice. Codependency and addiction go hand-in-hand and should be addressed during treatment. Loved ones close to addicts typically find themselves in a codependent role. What is disconcerting is the fact that these types of relationships can push the addict even further down their path of destruction.
There are way more people in codependent relationships than will ever admit to being in one. You may hear someone say, “but, I love them.” This feeling is understandable, particularly with regard to family members; but the chain still needs to be broken to make progress. Take the example of parents dealing with a child in addiction. It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children. In the case of addiction, offering money or a bed at home will only teach the child that they behavior comes without consequences. As difficult as it is, tough love is necessary.
Unfortunately, not many codependent relationship statistics exist. Currently, codependency statistics include:
- Some estimates guess that more than 90 percent of Americans display codependent behavior during their lifetimes.
- 7 million American women are depressed, and 40 million Americans, primarily women, have been labeled as codependent.
- 90 percent of Americans struggle with some form of codependency, cited a 2017 article in The New York Times.
- Approximately 44 million Americans struggle with codependency, according to a 2015 study.
- Women face codependency more frequently than men.
The Symptoms of Codependency
There are following symptoms of people who have codependent behavior:
- Low self-esteem, feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy.
- Difficulty saying “no.”
- Difficulty creating healthy boundaries and distinguishing responsibility for actions.
- A need to control situations, people, and their own feelings.
- Poor communication skills.
- Prioritizing other people’s need at the cost of your own
- Problems with intimacy.
- Negative and painful emotions such as depression, resentment, and despair.
Treatment for Codependency
When neither partner has an addiction, treatment usually occurs when a couple is having significant problems maintaining their already challenging relational patterns. In the case of addiction, treatment often occurs when the addict has some form of crisis and is forced to make major life changes. Such crises may include medical treatment resulting from dependence, legal or criminal procedures, or instabilities such as relationship and work problems. Frequently, because of the addiction, treatment for codependency occurs at an addiction treatment center. Finding a professional treatment center that specializes in dual diagnosis can be incredibly helpful in overcoming the substance use disorder plaguing your relationship while also treating the resulting mental disorders.
Treatment for codependency is complicated because the codependent people do not see the harm of their behavior causes. In fact, they consider their actions as helping and act this way as an expression of their love. For this reason, it is important to diagnose and treat codependency and addiction together.