There are several nuanced topics that may play a role in addiction recovery for some people, and one that’s relatively well-known here is codependence. Within the realm of addiction, codependence typically refers to mutual dependence that an addict and his or her spouse/family member/significant other has on each other’s dysfunction – and it can be a major contributor to struggles with addiction and recovery in some cases.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we offer both outpatient and inpatient addiction recovery programs for patients around Washington and nearby states. We’ve helped many people who deal with codependency issues as part of their addiction, and we’ll help you take the right steps to break free of this concern. What exactly is codependence in addiction, what are some signs that it might be present, and what are some safe ways for partners or family members to help a loved one who deals with addiction without risking codependency concerns? Let’s have a look.
What is Codependency in Addiction?
As we began touching on above, codependency in addiction is a type of mutually dependent relationship between two people – usually an addict and their partner/family member/significant other – in which one person’s addiction and dysfunction fuels the other’s. In essence, codependency is an unhealthy dependency that feeds off of each other’s dysfunctional cycle.
For the addict themselves, codependency can be a major contributing factor to their addiction and make it more difficult for them to find the motivation and dedication needed to break free from substance misuse. For the partner/family member/significant other, codependency may lead to enabling behaviors that inadvertently support their loved one’s addiction, making it harder for them to help in constructive ways.
Some Codependent Partners Subconsciously Want This
One of the more curious and nuanced parts of codependency in addiction is the way our subconscious minds can sometimes take over from our conscious ones. A common example of this is seen in relationships where the partner of an addict may, on some level, subconsciously want the addict to remain addicted in order to have control over them.
This can be a difficult topic for many people to face, especially if they’re already in a codependent relationship with an addict and can’t see that this is what’s going on – but it’s important to recognize when this might be the case in order to help the addict and their loved ones break free of this dysfunctional cycle. In many cases, the partners or family members of addicts will need to engage in certain recovery programs themselves, helping to identify and address any subconscious needs or motivations they may be harboring that are contributing to the codependency.
Signs of Codependency in Addiction
So, how do you tell if a relationship is suffering from codependency? Generally speaking, codependent relationships have some common warning signs that can help alert both partners and family members to their issues. Here are some of the most notable:
- Too much of a desire to please: The codependent partner typically feels a strong need to please their loved one and put the addict’s needs above their own, even if it means sacrificing their safety or well-being.
- Unhealthy dependence: As mentioned, codependency typically involves an unhealthy degree of dependency on the other person for emotional validation and support.
- Inability to set boundaries: This is closely related to the first bullet point, but it’s also its own issue. Codependent relationships often lack clear boundaries and expectations for both partners, leading to confusion and resentment.
- Always taking blame: The codependent partner often feels the need to take on all of the blame for any difficulties in their relationship and will rarely express their own needs or desires.
- Need to “fix” things: A common trait of codependent relationships is the need of one partner to “fix” the other, usually without any clear plan or direction.
If you recognize any of these traits in your relationship with an addicted loved one, it’s important to take action right away.
Healthy Ways for Partners or Family to Support Addiction Recovery
Now, the last thing we want any partners or family members of someone struggling with addiction to take away from this blog is some mistaken impression that they can’t be helpful in this process. Partners and family members play a major role in the recovery process and can be an invaluable source of support.
So, what are some healthy ways for partners and family to help? Well, one of the most important is to simply listen. While it’s understandable that a partner or family member may want to offer advice or criticism, this isn’t always the best approach – instead, try to be an active listener and give your loved one some space to talk openly about their struggles and feelings.
Another important way that partners or family members can help is to create a safe environment for the addict to make mistakes without judgment. Nobody’s perfect, especially when they’re in the midst of recovering from addiction – offering them understanding and support goes a long way.
And finally, partners or family members need to have an open mind toward their own behaviors and motivations. As mentioned, codependency can be a major issue in some cases – so it’s important to do some self-reflection and make sure that you’re not contributing to the addict’s dysfunction in any way.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our addiction recovery programs or services in Washington and nearby areas, speak to our team at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.