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Codependency | Clearbrook Treatment Centers

Relationships between people can be complicated and have both positive and negative effects. Addiction and codependency frequently coexist, forming a powerful and occasionally baffling alliance that has a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone involved. By examining their interactions, our Clearbrook Massachusetts rehab seeks to shed light on the complexities of codependency and addiction. Our objective is to clarify these complexities in order to better comprehend these connected difficulties and to provide understandings that can result in healing and liberation.

Define Codependency in Addiction

One of the issues seen most commonly among families of addicts and alcoholics is codependency. Codependency is defined as excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction. Psychologist Robert Subby further explains it as an “emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules — rules which prevent the open expression of feeling as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems.”

It is a set of learned dysfunctional behaviors that are adopted in order to cope with the stress of living with someone who is experiencing substance abuse problems. It typically affects those close to an addict, such as their spouses, parents, siblings, or friends. Codependent people who are not addicted are referred to as enablers. While those in a codependent relationship may see themselves as helping their loved ones by cleaning up their messes, it may be doing more harm than good. Enablers often see themselves as maintaining order or balance in their life, but protecting an addict from the negative consequences of substance abuse will only lead to enabling them further and increasing the chances of that individual dying from the disease of addiction.

Signs of a Codependent Relationship

It may not be easy to address a relationship that has grown to be codependent, but doing so is crucial to maintaining the mental well-being of both involved.

Codependent relationship signs can include:

  • Low self-esteem: Believing that there is something innately wrong with yourself. A person with low self-esteem feels unworthy, incapable, and incompetent in one or more areas of their life.
  • People-pleasing: Codependents often try to go out of their way to please others. They typically put others and others’ needs ahead of themselves.
  • Blurred boundaries: Rather than accepting responsibility for their own feelings, codependents often blame others. They also may feel as though they are responsible for the feelings of others.
  • Neglecting self-care: Codependents take care of others to the point that they neglect themselves. They may put others’ feelings ahead of their own and take care of everyone else’s needs before theirs. This can lead to stress, anger, depression, and anxiety.
  • Poor communication: Those in codependent relationships struggle with healthy communication of their thoughts and feelings, especially if they feel that they may hurt the feelings of someone else. Rather than bring up any negativity, they bottle things up inside, which can often lead to an outburst of emotions and thoughts, only making situations worse.
  • Denial: This makes codependency difficult to deal with. Since they typically deny their own feelings, codependents may not even realize their own emotional patterns. Furthermore, in the case of addiction, codependents typically have trouble admitting they have a problem or are in need of help themselves, only prolonging their process of addiction recovery.
  • Dependency:  Codependents need the approval of others to determine their own self-worth. They can latch on to a person who is perceived to need help. They want to be loved and are willing to do anything to keep another person involved in the relationship, even if it is unhealthy or difficult.

Does Codependency Negatively Affect Addiction?

Absolutely. For example, a parent may continually make excuses for their addicted son or daughter and attempt to rescue them from the negative consequences of their actions (trouble at school or with the law). This enables the addict to continue along their destructive path.

Many may recall the 2015 case of the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault. After the allegations came to light, his father wrote a letter about his son, saying that “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.” Many were shocked that his father appeared to defend the actions of his son and place the blame on the girl. Is this situation much different from a parent who continually makes excuses for their addicted child or a husband or wife making excuses for their partner?

Rather than helping someone who is struggling with addiction, being a part of a codependent relationship can exacerbate the situation and cause the addict to seek relief in the wrong ways. Codependency causes individuals to suppress their emotions and may lead to coping with drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or other compulsive behavior.

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency frequently has roots in early experiences and acquired habits. It is a complicated phenomenon that is influenced by a number of circumstances. Growing up in a dysfunctional family is one of the main causes. Children who grow up in households with violence, mental illness, addiction, or were frequently neglected learn to adapt by putting aside their own needs and wants in order to maintain stability or placate tumultuous family dynamics. This ingrained habit of putting other people’s needs ahead of one’s own can continue into adulthood, affecting the dynamics of interpersonal interactions and one’s sense of oneself.

A lack of personal boundaries and low self-esteem are two more prevalent root causes of codependency. Low self-worth individuals may look to others for approval and acceptance, which causes them to rely on other sources for their sense of identity and self-worth. This reliance can lead people to become emotionally dependent on other people, losing touch with their own wants and desires. Similar to how it can be challenging for codependents to assert themselves, a lack of healthy boundaries can give rise to a propensity to merge with or allow others. Codependency patterns in relationships are developed and maintained by a combination of these variables.

Codependency | Clearbrook Treatment Centers


Addressing Codependency and Addiction With Clearbrook

Family therapy at our drug rehab in Massachusetts is especially recommended. Since codependents often spend their time worrying about other people rather than themselves, in order to recover, they need to take time getting to know themselves better, learning to express emotions, build a meaningful relationship with themselves and learn how to love others in a healthy and respectful way. Learning to develop and hold on to healthy boundaries benefits everyone involved and is fundamental to building healthy relationships in the future. Recovery from anything takes time and requires effort, but the result pays off tenfold.

Struggling with substance abuse can feel impossible to overcome. This is also very true for the ones who love an addict. While you may have never put a chemical in your body, you still feel crazy all the same. You find yourself making excuses for them, bailing them out of trouble, although you promised yourself you wouldn’t, and allowing them in your home. Most of the time, you don’t sleep, and you find it difficult to concentrate at work. You’re consumed with the addict’s well-being and whereabouts. It may be time you seek inpatient addiction treatment, even if your loved one is unwilling.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please allow our Northeast addictions treatment center to help. Recovery is possible for both the addict and their family members. Call us at 570-536-9621 today.

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