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Codependency and Drug Addiction

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Codependency is a mental condition that can vary in severity from one person to the next. Generally, a codependent person requires another person or people to have a sense of self-worth. The pattern of codependency can be very destructive. Combined with drug addiction, codependency can ruin relationships and keep someone from living a healthy life.

Codependency can precede substance use, but it may develop as a symptom or response to addiction. The most effective treatment for people with codependency and drug addiction is dual-diagnosis, which addresses both conditions at the same time. Vertava Health’s treatment facilities offer dual diagnosis treatment programs designed to help individuals overcome addiction and codependency and reclaim their lives.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition. It affects a person’s ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.

Codependent people form relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and abusive. Two types of personalities exist within the codependent relationship. These types are the manipulator and the enabler.

The Manipulator: The manipulator is the person with a substance use or control problem. This person manipulates those around him or her to achieve the desired response. The manipulator uses his or her influence to get what they want.

The Enabler: The enabler is the passive person in the relationship. This person, knowingly or unknowingly, enables and supports the manipulator’s behavior. This person complies with commands and loses his or her own identity to satisfy the needs of the manipulator.

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Types Of Codependent Relationships

Codependency was initially identified as a relationship between two people in which one person is addicted to substances and the other individual enables the addicted person. Today, codependency patterns are recognized as being able to develop in any relationship. The two most common types of codependent relationships involve physical and mental use or substance use.

Relationships Involving Substance Use: When addiction is present, it creates a repetitive cycle of lies, promises, silence, and other dysfunctional patterns. The enabler in the relationship begins to support the lifestyle of the addict. Over time, enabling behaviors can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle that is hard to break free of.

Relationships Involving Mental Or Physical Use: Both physical and mental use create a power imbalance within relationships. The use can be intermittent, so a person may think that it is “not always that bad.” Patterns begin to develop, and the used person starts to keep secrets to protect the user.

Symptoms of Codependency

Not all codependent relationships are severe or dangerous. There are many degrees of codependency, but most codependent relationships share common signs and symptoms.

Common symptoms of codependency are:

  • low self-esteem from feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, and a need for perfection
  • a sense of guilt when one asserts him or herself
  • a drive to make other people happy and the inability to say “no”
  • lack of trust in oneself and others
  • poor communication skills and overblown emotional reactions
  • obsessively thinking about other people and their anxieties and fears
  • problems with intimacy and the inability to form loving relationships
  • attempting to “fix” others and ignoring one’s own issues
  • difficulties identifying one’s feelings
  • a need for control in all situations, including other people
  • chronic anger
  • lying or dishonesty
  • negative and painful emotions such as despair, depression, and resentment
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of being abandoned or alone

Causes Of Codependency

Codependency is a learned behavior that often stems from experience. Usually, a codependent relationship begins when a child grows up in a dysfunctional home. In a dysfunctional home, family members suffer from fear, anger, pain, and their feelings are ignored or denied.

Parental dysfunction could be due to addiction, mental health diagnoses, or other circumstances. Parents in a dysfunctional home may also neglect their child’s feelings and reactions in favor of their own.

With an absent or self-involved guardian, children are forced to perform tasks not fit for their development. This type of emotional neglect can give the child low self-esteem, shame, and a sense that his or her own feelings and reactions do not matter.

How Often Does Codependency And Drug Addiction Co-Occur?

When addiction exists within a codependent relationship, the enabler supports the addict through his or her ups and downs. The codependent partner thinks they are “helping,” but in actuality are enabling the person to continue the cycle of use and addiction.

The enabler may often turn to drug addiction to mask his or her feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem. A substance use problem can form as a result of a person trying to feel better and improve his or her self-worth in the eyes of his or her partner.

Abusing Substances To Self-Medicate

When codependent people search for a way to be “themselves,” they may turn to substances like drugs and alcohol. These substances can relieve stressful symptoms of codependency, but there is an increased risk of the person becoming addicted to or dependent on drugs.

Feelings of happiness and a sense of well-being are common symptoms, at least initially, of many addictive substances. Taking drugs or drinking can feel euphoric and provide relief from the constant worry and anxiety of codependency.

Over time, drug and alcohol use can make symptoms worse and lead to severe substance dependence and addiction.

Treatment For Codependency And Addiction

Recovery from co-occurring codependency and drug addiction requires specific treatment. This treatment must take into account every sign and symptom and not just the physical effects of a person’s struggles.

At Vertava Health, we provide inpatient and residential treatment programs for patients to achieve successful addiction recovery. Any patients who have comorbid disorders receive a co-occurring disorder treatment plan designed to treat both addiction and mental health.

Our dual diagnosis programs offer integrated treatment plans that involve behavioral therapy, medication, and other treatment services based on each patient’s needs.

Treatment services offered at Vertava Health include:

Contact one of our treatment specialists at 844.470.0410 today to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs for yourself or a loved one.