Substance abuse doesn’t just affect the person who is misusing drugs or alcohol, it also affects the people around them. It can especially affect the person’s intimate and personal relationships. This may include friends, family, or roommates. Someone’s substance abuse can cause major distress in a household and, as a reaction to this stress, people may become codependent on the person who is suffering from substance abuse.
While it is important to be supportive of your loved one who may be struggling with addiction, your personal mental health should be your top priority. If taking care of someone who is struggling with substance abuse is taking a toll on your mental health or putting you in a toxic situation, it may be necessary to leave the relationship. If you believe that you may be in a codependent relationship, first try to communicate your concern with your loved one and then reevaluate the situation. However, be prepared to deal with the different types of reaction that the person might have.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency may occur when friends or family members enable a loved one’s substance abuse by hiding the person’s substance abuse problems from other people, giving the person money, or cleaning up the person’s mess so that the person does not receive the full consequences of their actions. This is problematic because when a person doesn’t experience the consequences of their addiction, it is harder for them to see how their addiction negatively affects the people around them.
Codependency is possible in any relationship but is more likely to occur in relationships with addicts. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health that consisted of 140 women, codependency scores were higher among wives married to men who are addicts. An addict’s unpredictable behavior due to their substance use disorder may cause anxiety among close friends or family members. The unpredictable nature of an addict’s behavior may make someone feel like they have to put the addict’s needs before their own needs. Codependency may also be accompanied by a person’s need to take care of others or if the person feels guilt for asserting themself. However, asserting yourself in a codependent situation may be the only way to rectify it.
There is debate among professionals as to whether co-dependency is a personality disorder or a reaction to stressful situations that can be caused by living with an addict. Codependency could possibly be a combination of both. It has been observed that there is a correlation between neuroticism, low levels of openness, and agreeableness that can lead to codependency. Codependency may be the result of the person suffering from substance abuse unintentionally manipulating a loved one when under the anxiety of dealing with their addiction.
It is possible that a co-dependent person might be constantly asked to clean up after the person with the substance abuse problem. The person may ask a loved one if they can bail them out of prison or cover up their substance abuse problem from other people. An addict may create an environment of untrustworthiness, chaos, and emotional distress that causes codependency. This can be overwhelming and cause a person to make decisions based on what will cause the least amount of conflict rather than what is best for everyone involved. A person with an agreeable personality trait may become codependent in an effort to avoid confrontations or conflicts.
Setting Boundaries and Leaving Toxic Relationships
Living with an addict can cause boundary distortions, which aren’t healthy for you or your loved one. If your loved one is suffering from substance abuse and has yet to receive treatment, encourage them to do so. You may need to go as far as holding an intervention for your loved one. Keep in mind that there is only so much you can do for your loved one and that, ultimately, they need to be willing to help themselves.
Addiction recovery is a journey of a lifetime that requires a good support system. Boundaries are a healthy way for you to be a part of your loved one’s support system without burning yourself out. If your significant other is a recovering addict, it’s important to communicate your feelings to them. If the person continues to push or overset your boundaries, it might be necessary to remove yourself from the toxic relationship. You cannot control this person and a person suffering from substance use disorder needs to want to get better in order for any meaningful changes to occur.
Codependency can be harmful to both you and your loved one suffering from substance use disorder. It may be easier for certain people to be codependent if they have certain personality types such as being extremely agreeable. If you feel like a loved one is taking advantage of you, set clear boundaries and stick to them. Let them know that you are concerned about them and express to the person how their actions are affecting you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stick up for yourself.
No matter how much you care about the other person, it’s important that you put your mental health first. Shoreline Recovery Center is here to help you and your loved ones find the proper treatment that could help them in their journey to sobriety and recovery. We offer many different types of treatment programs and therapies that are tailored to a person’s needs. If you feel like you are trapped in a codependent relationship and need help contact, us at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about the programs we offer.