Codependency and Addiction: How They Fit Together

Codependency has been defined by some as a “relationship addiction.” A codependent person is someone who forms unhealthy, one-sided or destructive relationships and will typically do whatever they can – often going above and beyond the call of duty – to keep that relationship together. They often put themselves in the role of a caretaker for the other people in their intimate relationships, putting the majority of their energy into making the other person happy, even at immense cost to themselves. Codependency and addiction frequently go together, since addicts need romantic partners who are willing to behave as their caretakers. Codependency and addiction can exist in relationships between adults, where the non-addicted partner enables the addicted partner, and also in relationships between addicted parents and their children.

In a relationship between a codependent and an addict, codependency and addiction force the two people into a set of unhealthy roles. Codependency and addiction force the addict to behave in a childlike manner – as someone who needs to be cared for and controlled. On the other side of the coin, codependency and addiction force the codependent person into an almost parental role, where they end up trying to control the addict’s behavior.

Codependency and addiction are said to feed on one another in relationships. As the addict attempts to skirt responsibility, the codependent assumes unreasonable amounts of responsibility, such as responsibility for the addict’s behavior. Codependency and addiction in a relationship causes both people to have trouble identifying their emotions. Boundaries deteriorate as the addict imposes far too much on the codependent person, while the codependent partner allows it. The codependent often goes out of his or her way to make excuses for, clean up after and generally work around the addict’s problem; in this way, the codependent partner protects the addict from the consequences of the addiction and inadvertently prolongs the problem.

Codependency and addiction both require treatment so that both partners can recover and enjoy a truly healthy relationship. For more information on codependency and addiction treatment, call The Delray Center at 1-888-699-5679.