The Connections Between Addiction and Codependency

Mar 12, 2024

When an individual struggles with addiction, they engage in a one-sided relationship with alcohol or other drugs. Over time, this relationship becomes emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Similarly, relational codependency is also one-sided, often involving unhealthy or toxic interactions with a partner or other loved one that may become emotionally destructive or abusive. Thus, it is no surprise that relational codependency is often termed “relationship addiction.” Meanwhile, learning about the connections between addiction and codependency is necessary, as it can help individuals recognize harmful behavior in themselves or others while also knowing when to seek professional recovery treatment. 

At Renaissance Ranch, it is not uncommon for addiction and codependency to coexist in those who utilize our treatment programs to establish and sustain recovery. Characteristics of dependency often overlap in both substance addictions as well as relationship addictions, sharing similar risk factors that make individuals vulnerable to experiencing both conditions. Meanwhile, healing from addiction and codependency takes time. With a wide range of treatment programs and services to offer, we are dedicated to helping men heal from the destructive effects of these conditions to establish lasting sobriety and recovery. 

Understanding Codependency

Simply put, codependency is characterized by an unhealthy relationship involving a partner with an emotional or psychological reliance on the other partner. This can occur in both romantic relationships as well as family relationships. For example, one person may believe that it is their responsibility to “save” or care for the other partner by attending to all of their needs. As a result, the codependent partner adopts a self-sacrificial role, building their entire identity around the purpose of caring for the other partner. 

Commonly, many codependent people neglect to understand why their efforts to care for or support their partner so deeply can trigger harm for both of them. Not all codependent efforts are intentionally harmful; however, most codependent efforts can lead to toxic relational patterns over time. 

Mainly, the codependent person needs to feel needed. To ensure this, they may ignore or neglect to recognize their partner’s boundaries, using control or manipulation, to get their way. For example, they may take responsibility for their partner’s actions, carry the burden for their partner’s problems, or make excuses for their partner to protect them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. These behaviors further enable the other partner to be compliant in their relationship, thereby minimizing personal responsibility and failing to assert their own identity or will. 

What Causes Codependency?

Present-day codependency can often be traced back to unhealthy relationships or traumatic experiences in early childhood. For example, a codependent person may have grown up in a dysfunctional family environment where emotions like anger, shame, or fear were not welcomed or acknowledged. Further, children raised in homes like these may have learned to repress their emotions and ignore their own needs in an attempt to keep the peace. 

Meanwhile, as explained in Psychiatria Hungarica, the etiology of codependency is multifactorial, consisting of biological, psychological, and social elements. In addition to aversive experiences in a dysfunctional family, other root causes of codependency include:

  • The development of an anxious attachment style with caregivers
  • Parental conflicts
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Parentification
  • Improper development of prefrontal cortex
  • Emergence of substance abuse in the family

Addiction and Codependency: Codependency as a Risk Factor

When codependency is present, individuals may experience a wide range of problematic symptoms that interfere with their ability to live or function well in daily life. For example, they are likely to experience low self-esteem and feelings of shame, problems with boundary-setting, people-pleasing behaviors, anxiety, and more. Further, these symptoms, coupled with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders. 

In this way, codependent tendencies can make individuals vulnerable to self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs. Not only may they engage in substance use in an attempt to cope with their symptoms but they may also use substances in an attempt to please a partner that also engages in alcohol or other drug use.

For those who are struggling with codependency, it is important to understand that it is not your fault. Treatment is available to help you create a healthier relationship with yourself and your partner, free from the grips of substance abuse and other destructive habits. 

Addiction and Codependency: How Codependency Can Perpetuate Addiction

It is also important to consider the implications of codependency on the perpetuation of alcohol and other drug use. Unfortunately, a codependent partner may fear that if their loved one recovers from their addiction, they will no longer need them. As a result, many enable loved ones who are addicted to substances, encouraging a partner to postpone treatment entry or supplying them with more drugs or alcohol. 

For these reasons and more, addiction and codependency must be addressed in tandem when working to establish recovery from addiction. Treating codependency must be incorporated into the individual’s treatment plan to prevent relapse best while also establishing healthy interdependency moving forward. 

Treatment for Addiction and Codependency at Renaissance Ranch

At Renaissance Ranch, we understand how challenging it can be to recognize the interconnectedness of addiction and codependency. However, we also believe that without addressing codependency, individuals will experience a greater risk of relapse. Fortunately, at our facility, we work with men to uncover the underlying reasons for their codependent tendencies while working to establish sobriety. With a wide range of therapeutic options and programs available, we have what men need to secure lasting healing from addiction and codependency once and for all. 

Addiction and codependency often occur in tandem. It is necessary to address codependency in addiction treatment and overcome any underlying causes to have the best chance at sustaining long-term sobriety and recovery. Likewise, it can be valuable to incorporate codependent partners or loved ones into the addiction treatment process, helping them to prevent any behaviors that could otherwise jeopardize the recovery journey. At Renaissance Ranch, we are passionate about helping men recover from substance abuse and the symptoms that may perpetuate it. With a full continuum of care services and various therapeutic options, our faith-based treatment approach can help men recognize that they are beyond worthy of recovery and healing. Call (801) 308-8898 to learn more today.