Renaissance Ranch

How Codependency Enables Addiction

Apr 18, 2021

How Codependency Enables Addiction

Seeing someone you care about struggle with substance use can be extremely difficult. You might feel helpless and scared. Their addiction may be affecting you personally, whether it’s financially, physically, emotionally, or perhaps all of these at the same time. You want to help your loved one but just don’t know-how.

Maybe your loved one decided to seek treatment, went through detoxification, and is beginning the road to recovery. However, if parts of your relationship are still toxic and/or old habits still exist, some extra work may be required. You might not realize it, but there’s a chance that you and your loved one have a codependent relationship.

The Unhealthy Reality Of Codependent Relationships

Codependency is when you enable someone’s negative behavior at the expense of your own personal needs, emotions, and safety in an attempt to fix or control their problems. The result is an unbalanced relationship that is centered around dependence. Your loved one is dependent on the excuses you make and the care you give, despite the harm they are causing.

Being in a codependent relationship doesn’t mean that you don’t mean well. Codependent behavior is common in people-pleasers or people who are afraid of the rejection and emotional pain they could experience if they don’t say yes. As a result, your self-esteem and sense of identity often suffer as you focus everything on the other person you are protecting. The end result is only more pain, frustration, and resentment.

Enabling Adds To The Cycle Of Addiction

If you have a codependent relationship, enabling may be a huge part of it. If your loved one is abusing substances, you might feel the drive to help them. There isn’t anything wrong with helping others. However, there is a fine line between being a helpful part of their support system or an enabler. It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, but it’s important to reflect on your part in your loved one’s addiction and recovery journey.

When you want to help your loved one, you need to ask yourself how your actions affect their road to recovery. Are you making excuses for their behavior? Are you taking on more responsibilities than you should deal with the side effects of their substance use? Are you afraid to be honest with them about their problem because it might make things worse? Enablers focus on “protecting” their loved ones from the consequences of their actions, but in reality, they are trying to protect themselves. Ignoring the problem doesn’t help — it only causes the issues to compound.

Enabling often looks like taking responsibility for other people’s actions, trying to solve their problems for them, or allowing them to use your time, resources, and money without permission. You might be neglecting your own personal needs and safety to care for your loved one. You might be enabling them as a way to feel a sense of control in a situation that feels hopeless. However, allowing yourself to enable their addiction will only make the problem worse.

Empower Them Instead

There are healthier ways that you can help. When someone you love is suffering from addiction or paving a way for successful recovery, it’s key to consider what your role will be. You need to draw that line in the sand between helping and enabling. Consider your own boundaries. Prioritize self-care, pay attention to your needs, and set limits for your relationship. This creates the foundation of a healthy relationship and leaves room for growth and healing. If you have low self-esteem, it can be hard to set these boundaries. You might feel like you’re hurting your loved one, but you are actually allowing them to take responsibility for their actions.

Your loved one needs a healthy support system and people on their side. One of the best ways to help them is to empower them. Support their recovery and provide them with resources to get better or continue getting better. Choosing empowerment over enabling can help end the cycle of addiction.

There Might Be A Time For Tough Love

Enforcing boundaries won’t be easy and there are limits that will need to be set. These might include what resources you will or won’t provide, such as money or time. Your loved one might push back, threaten to leave or feel resentful. However, by setting these expectations, you are keeping both of you safe. It won’t be easy — there’s a reason why we call it “tough” love.

It’s important to remember that you aren’t responsible for your loved one’s actions. They are responsible, and it’s necessary to give them the space to take accountability. Dealing with addiction and recovery takes strength, compassion, and healing. What it doesn’t take is codependency.

When a loved one is in crisis, you might feel like it’s your responsibility to save them. This can create an unhealthy relationship dynamic where the person you love is reliant on your care instead of taking personal accountability. Codependency can enable addiction by allowing these behaviors to continue without consequence. If you find yourself rationalizing poor behaviors or neglecting your own needs to take care of them, you might be in a codependent relationship. Enabling is common and most people do it out of love, out of fear, or to feel more in control. But enabling someone with addiction only makes the problem worse. At Renaissance Ranch, we know how difficult it can be when someone you love is dealing with addiction. We are here to help you understand the difference between enabling and supporting your loved one so both of you can heal. To learn more, call us today at (801) 308-8898.