12 Dec Addiction and Codependency

When a person is struggling with addiction, it is only natural for their family and friends to want to help. However, in some cases these loved ones can develop a codependency, which can hurt their self-esteem, the relationship, and delay the likelihood of the person seeking help for their addiction. Codependency is when one person gets a sense of fulfillment by taking care of the other person without having their own needs met. Codependency and addiction often go hand in hand and can be found in many relationships surrounding those with substance abuse problems.

A codependent person often makes excuses for the other person’s behavior. They may take the blame on themselves or hope that if they just love the person enough, they will overcome the addiction. They may try to offset or soften the consequences of the bad choices that the other person makes. They are often willing to put up with being taken advantage of out of fear that the other person will do something self-destructive if they don’t help or hope that things will get better if they just continue being supportive.

The person who is codependent may enjoy the sense of control of being the one who the person struggling with drugs comes to when they need help. They may take pride in being the only one strong enough to “deal with” the situation. Many times a codependent person is suffering from low self-esteem and having the addict rely on them gives them a sense of being needed and being important. They get a feeling of satisfaction by catering to the needs of another while ignoring their own needs.

Though the codependent person is trying to help the addict overcome their problems, in reality, they can make the situation worse. Always having someone to help solve their problems or prevent consequences can keep an addict from hitting rock bottom and deciding to make a change. It gives them someone on whom to channel their anger and place blame for their actions. It provides a way for their needs to be met without having to put forth the effort to take care of themselves.

A codependent person is undoubtedly hoping that they can help their loved one change by meeting all of their needs. They are trying to preserve the relationship by doing all the work themselves, but the only way to save the relationship is for the person with the addiction to take personal responsibility and get help through a rehabilitation program or other counseling. Withdrawing unhealthy support can help an addict realize they have a problem and decide to find a solution. The codependent person may also benefit from counseling to understand not only how to best help their loved one who is struggling with addiction, but also how to fortify their own self-esteem so they can avoid returning to a codependent or unhealthy relationship in the future.

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