Many people live in co-dependent relationships, whether they are aware or not. When relationships lack healthy boundaries regarding roles and responsibilities, co-dependency flourishes. For people with substance use disorder (SUD) or those who are supporting a loved one in addiction recovery, it is important to identify co-dependency and nip it in the bud. Below are 10 reasons co-dependency must be overcome, especially for those dealing with SUD.
Reason #1. Co-Dependency Is Draining
In a relationship, when person A has an extreme preoccupation or even obsession with the emotional and social needs of person B, person B loses the ability to be independent in exerting their agency. Over time, an imbalance forms that prevents the relationship from being mutually beneficial. Person A feels they have to drain themselves to make sure person B has and does everything they need to, and person B feels drained from being controlled.
Reason #2. Co-Dependency Leads to Impaired Self-Identity
A person who lacks independence may neglect to take care of themself or lose focus on their own identity. When person A becomes overly dependent on person B, this reliance defines who they are and they lack a secure sense of self.
Reason #3. Co-Dependency Covers Untreated Trauma
Most forms of codependency are rooted in childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. By sticking with an unhealthy relationship, individuals continue to put themselves at risk for trauma and don’t deal with the pre-existing trauma. A codependent relationship may become another level of complication on top of past trauma.
Reason #4. Co-Dependency Manifests in Either Rigid or Missing Boundaries
Some people grew up with strict boundaries. As a result, person A may tend to either avoid many things or take extreme risks. They may set unrealistic boundaries or have none at all. These behavioral patterns may result in having too-strict or completely missing boundaries with person B. Person B may go along with everything person A wants and lack the ability to say no.
Reason #5. Co-Dependent Relationships Are Full of Disappointment and Distrust
A co-dependent relationship is bound to be unsatisfying because of the power imbalance. When person A lets down person B often, trust is diminished. However, this happens because person B has enabled person A to continue a certain way of behaving without consequences.
Reason #6. Co-Dependency Enables Addiction
Co-dependent relationships were first identified in family members of people who struggled with alcoholism. Many parents with teenage children who use illicit drugs may also be co-dependent enablers. Some parents tolerate substance use for fear of damage to the family’s reputation should it get out that the teen is getting treatment. This enables the teen to continue using substances.
Reason #7. Co-Dependency May Increase the Risk of Substance Use
Co-dependency can appear in any kind of relationship. For example, children of people who have SUD may become codependent. These children may feel the urgent need to become a caretaker for their parents. When they grow up, these children are at higher risk of developing mental health issues and SUD themselves to cope with the loss of their childhood and because substance use was modeled as acceptable stress-reducing behavior.
Reason #8. Co-Dependency Is a Major Stressor
Being in a co-dependent relationship can create much stress and anxiety. Because the relationship is not mutually beneficial, the one-sided and sometimes emotionally abusive relationship can cause enormous stress. Over time, this can lead to mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression.
Reason #9. Co-Dependency Disrupts Healthy Boundaries
Even as a person in recovery strives to re-establish healthy boundaries, co-dependent relationships may sabotage progress in this area. This is why couples counseling and family therapy are critical to bringing the family unit up to speed on healthy boundary-keeping.
Reason #10. Co-Dependent Relationships May Lead to Relapse
Because co-dependency serves as an enabling influence and creates ongoing stress, a person going through recovery may face high risks of relapse if this pattern does not stop. Many people return to similar relationship dynamics after treatment and face an increased risk of relapse.
There are many reasons to stop co-dependent relationships from continuing, especially for those in addiction recovery. However, the first step is to identify these patterns. When necessary, individuals must seek help from mental health and recovery experts. There are several ways to stop co-dependency from continuing:
- Identify patterns of co-dependent behaviors in your relationship. Recognize the harm and do not let it continue.
- Affirm your own self-worth. This is the foundation for overcoming co-dependency in a relationship because co-dependency reflects a negative view of oneself.
- Begin setting new boundaries. Learn to say no. Stop pleasing the other person. You might even need to detach and disengage to protect your own well-being.
- Seek help to recover from past trauma. If you have been in a co-dependent relationship for a long time, you likely need professional help to work through it. Gather the courage to face your past and work with mental health experts to process it.
Did you know that co-dependency often develops in relationships involving someone with a substance abuse issue? The person suffering from addiction may not feel the need to begin the recovery process. The other person in the relationship may be enabling the addiction to continue, intentionally or otherwise. If you feel you experience co-dependency in your life, Laguna Shores can help you heal from these negative relationship patterns while maintaining recovery progress. We have experienced mental health professionals who apply evidence-based treatment to mitigate co-dependency and enabling behaviors. We will walk alongside you or your loved one to offer support and guidance. Through our various programs, including medical detox, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and 12-Step programs, we will also connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Call us today to discover how you can overcome co-dependency, which is the starting point for a recovery-supportive relationship. Call 866-934-5276 today.