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Codependency and Addiction

Updated: Aug 11, 2023


Codependency and addiction have a close relationship with each other. Codependency can be defined as a psychological condition in which a person is excessively reliant on the approval of others, to the point where their own needs are often neglected. Addiction, on the other hand, is a chronic and compulsive disorder that involves the abuse of substances or behaviours, leading to negative outcomes on a person’s physical and mental health. Codependency and addiction often coexist and the relationship between the two can be complex.


Understanding Codependency


Codependency is often associated with dysfunctional family systems, where a person grows up in an environment that is marked by neglect, abuse or addiction. In such system, a person may develop a deep-rooted need to take care of others, often at the expense of their own needs. They may also develop a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, even when it is not healthy or warranted. People who are codependent may find it difficult to set boundaries with others, and may struggle with saying no, even when it is in their best interest. They may also have low self-esteem, seek validation from others to feel good about themselves.


Understanding Addiction


Addiction is a compulsive and chronic disorder that involves the abuse of substances or behaviours. The abuse of drugs and alcohol can lead to physical and mental health problems, as well as social and financial consequences. Behaviours like gambling or shopping can also lead to negative outcomes, such as financial and relationship problems.

Addiction is often rooted in emotional pain or trauma, and people who struggle with addiction may use substances or behaviours as a way to cope with these underlying issues. Addiction can be difficult to overcome and often requires professional help and support.


The Relationship Between Codependency and Addiction


Codependency and addiction often coexist and the relationship between the two can be complex. People who are codependent may enable the addictive behaviour of others by taking on too much responsibility for their well-being or by overlooking the negative consequences of their behaviour. They may also struggle to set boundaries with others, making it difficult to refuse requests for help.


On the other hand, people who struggle with addiction may rely on codependent relationships as a way to cope with their underlying emotional issues. They may seek validation and support from codependent partners who may enable their addictive behaviour by providing a safe space for them to continue their substance abuse or negative behaviours.

Codependency and addiction can reinforce each other, creating a cycle of dysfunction that can be difficult to break. People who are codependent may feel a sense of purpose and validation in taking care of someone with an addiction, and may struggle to let go of that role. People with addiction may also rely on codependent relationships as a way to avoid their underlying issues, and may struggle to take responsibility for their own well-being.


Breaking the Cycle of Codependency and Addiction


Breaking the cycle of codependency and addiction often requires professional support. Therapy can be an effective way to address the underlying emotional issues that contribute to codependency and addiction. Therapy can also help people develop healthy coping skills and communication techniques, which can be crucial in setting boundaries and avoiding codependent relationships.



codependency and addiction. Iremia Counselling


References

Cermak, T. L. (1986). Diagnosing and treating co-dependence: A guide for professionals who work with chemical dependents, their spouses and children. Johnson Institute Books.

Mellody, P., & Miller, A. (1989). Facing codepenckence: What it is, where it comes from, how it sabotages out lives. Harper One.





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