There are many different factors that lead to drug addiction. Some of those factors can also be serious problems when it comes time to quit. Codependency can be an issue both for the addict and for their loved ones.

What is Codependency?

Couple hugging wondering who is encouraging codependency

In the briefest terms, codependency is an emotional reliance on another person. For those struggling with addiction, that person could be a parent, a sibling, a spouse or a friend. This relationship is largely one-sided, with one person providing support to the other.

Codependency can be found in all kinds of relationships and environments. Unfortunately, it is very common in the world of addiction. Those who struggle with addiction naturally need help and support. Those who love them often want to help, and doing so repeatedly causes a codependence.

Codependence Takes Away Natural Consequences

The biggest problem with codependency is that it takes away the natural consequences of actions. For those who use drugs, those consequences can be severe. If they never have to experience them fully, however, individuals won’t feel the need to recover.

A typical adult who develops a serious heroin addiction, as just one example, might suffer from a laundry list of consequences. They could be in financial ruin, in terrible health, have no meaningful relationships left and have no career. However, if they are codependent on a willing partner, they might not suffer these consequences in full.

That friend, parent or spouse could supply them with cash to avoid homelessness. They might lie to others to protect the reputation of the addicted person. They might provide emotional support or medical care when it is necessary.

All of these actions are, on the surface, kind things to do. In reality, however, they are making it harder for an addict to actually quit using drugs. There is simply no motivation if someone is always caring for them. They can use drugs and get support, so why change?

Romantic Codependence and Addiction

Codependence can develop in any relationship, but it can be especially common in romantic ones. All too often, individuals think that love means helping loved ones in any situation. In reality, that can become codependence.

This is especially true between couples who are both drug users. They may become codependent on one another, doing anything to maintain the status quo. This is a dangerous relationship because it often makes drug use the third wheel.

Gender and social expectation also come into play in romantic relationships. Men may feel like they can’t get medical help, so they rely on female partners to manage financial, emotional and social support. Conversely, men may want to provide for women they love who are struggling with addiction.

Learning the Difference Between Enabling and Helping

Codependency isn’t a one-way street. It is not just the addicts who are to blame when codependence exists. Often, family members need to learn the difference between helping and enabling.

To start, it is recommended that no one give an addict money. This is a nearly universal rule because giving money to an addict is essentially guaranteeing them access to more drugs.

Enabling is also defending unsavory actions. Just because a person you love is addicted, that doesn’t make their actions okay. Individuals should never lie about or defend the actions of an addict.

However, loved ones can and should still help. Ensuring addicts have access to medical care and treatment, for example, can truly make a positive difference in their lives.

Effectively Bringing Family Into the Recovery Process

Therapy can involve the whole family and set the tone for lasting recovery. Through family therapy, patients can learn how to have healthy relationships with their loved ones. Family members can also learn how to offer support without enabling the addiction.

Codependency is often a factor in the steps to recovery. At Steps to Recovery in Levittown, Pennsylvania, family relationships are a major part of our comprehensive addiction treatment. If you’re ready to get free from drug addiction and codependency, we can help. Break the cycle of family addiction today. Call 267.719.8528.

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