7 Signs Of Codependency & Addiction
When your loved one lives with drug addiction (substance use disorder), you face a high risk of codependency.
In a codependent relationship, the codependent person sacrifices their own needs to please the addicted person. This dynamic may arise between romantic partners, family members, or friends. If you think you might be codependent on an addicted loved one, look for these signs.
1. Lack Of Boundaries
A healthy relationship includes healthy boundaries. Boundaries are emotional or physical limits you set to protect yourself.
Codependency can lead you to abandon these limits as you devote your life to pleasing your addicted loved one. For example, you might spend so much time tending to your loved one’s needs that you neglect your own responsibilities, hobbies, and other relationships.
You may also struggle to tell your loved one “no” because you don’t want to upset them. Indeed, codependent individuals often feel responsible for their loved one’s feelings. As a result, they do whatever they can to avoid conflict, even if it’s unhealthy.
2. Low Self-Esteem
Most codependent people struggle with self-worth. They might judge themselves unfairly, compare themselves to others, and downplay their positive characteristics.
To gain confidence, they try to be the perfect companion for their addicted loved one. At first, the person’s codependent behaviors may indeed give them a sense of purpose.
Over time, though, the person will realize how much their well-being and sense of self depends on their loved one. This realization could damage their self-esteem even more, creating a vicious cycle.
Typically, when you become codependent on an addicted loved one, you assume the role of caregiver.
Some caregivers mainly provide emotional care. For example, they may always answer their loved one’s calls, no matter how busy they are.
Other caregivers provide more comprehensive types of care. They might take on their loved one’s daily responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare. In this case, they may schedule their entire day around meeting their loved one’s needs.
Codependent caretakers often neglect self-care. As they obsess over meeting someone else’s needs, their own physical and mental health plummets.
4. Poor Communication Skills
Usually, codependent people struggle to communicate their thoughts. That’s because they hate the idea of hurting their loved one’s feelings. They tend to hide their opinions, especially opinions regarding their loved one’s substance abuse and other unhealthy behaviors.
For instance, they may pretend they have not been harmed by their loved one’s actions. While they might know the truth deep down, they feel they don’t deserve to express their emotions. In severe cases, they may even struggle to admit their feelings to themselves.
5. Reassurance Seeking
Since codependent people obsess over their relationships, they often seek reassurance from their loved ones. For example, as a codependent partner, you might repeatedly ask your addicted partner if they still love you.
This behavior usually signals insecurity within the relationship.
Indeed, codependent relationships are built on an imbalance of power in which the codependent person devotes their life to the addicted person. As a result, the codependent person may wonder if the addicted person truly cares for them.
Codependent people tend to enable their loved one’s self-destructive behaviors. For instance, if your loved one drinks a lot and hurts someone’s feelings, you might explain that they only drank so much due to work-related stress.
Some people also enable their loved ones by lying on behalf of them. For example, if their loved one misses work due to a hangover, an enabler might tell the person’s boss that they simply had a cold.
Other people physically enable their loved one’s addictions by giving them money for drugs. In the long run, all forms of enabling only worsen the addicted person’s health.
In general, it takes time for a person to admit they have become codependent on someone else. When the codependency first starts, the person might insist that the relationship is healthy.
As the dynamic becomes more toxic, however, the person must work hard to stay in denial. They may even stop talking to friends and family who voice concern about the codependency.
By denying the dysfunction, the codependent person can continue living for their loved one and avoiding their issues. The relationship will then grow more dysfunctional until the addicted person confronts their addiction and seeks treatment.
If you or someone you love struggles with drug abuse, please reach out to Spring Hill Recovery Center. Our addiction treatment programs offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based services in a peaceful wooded setting.
- Addiction and Health — Living with Addicted Men and Codependency: The Moderating Effect of Personality Traits https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5115643/
- Journal of Clinical Psychology — Codependency: a disorder separate from chemical dependency https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1556208/
- Journal of Clinical Psychology — What is codependency? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1939721/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Codependency on Drug Abusers' Mothers https://nida.nih.gov/international/abstracts/codependency-drug-abusers-mothers