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November 29, 2022

Codependency and Substance Abuse

When people think about addiction, the only thing that comes to mind is how it affects the person and their lives. However, there’s much more to addiction than the person who’s addicted.

Addiction can cause issues within an addict’s various relationships.  Codependency isn’t exclusive to substance abuse, but according to Mental Health America, it was discovered first in a familial relationship with individuals battling alcoholism. 

A codependent relationship is often found in those who are in close relationships with people struggling with addiction and can take on many forms.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is when an individual in a relationship has a large amount of physical and emotional needs while the other partner spends a majority of their time tending to their partner’s needs. The relationship isn’t healthy and in some ways, borders on being obsessive.

Codependency isn’t limited to just substance abuse; it is any relationship considered dysfunctional. People might not think that they’re exhibiting signs of being in a codependent relationship, but you are.  

A codependent relationship involves two types of personalities.  The first being the manipulator and the second being the enabler. 

The manipulator in the relationship is the individual with the substance abuse or control problem. This person will go to different lengths to get what they want out of their significant other or loved one. 

The enabler is the person in the relationship who gives in to the manipulator’s requests and behaviors.  This individual not knowingly or sometimes knowingly helps and supports the manipulator. In the action of helping the manipulator, the individual will often lose their self-identity in order to satisfy their partner.   

Signs of Codependency

A common sign a person is in a codependent relationship is feeling an increased level of stress when it has to do with their loved one.

For example, if a loved one goes on a binge and communication is cut off, the person’s anxiety and stress are at an all-time high until you hear from them again. Another sign of codependency is finding it hard to tell them no. 

This could be during times when they ask for:

  • A place to stay
  • Food
  • A ride


If the partner can’t set boundaries and stick to these boundaries without feeling inadequate or anxious, it’s a sign that they might be suffering from codependency. The moment they start to ignore the things they need to take care of themselves is when a relationship crosses into a territory of codependence.

Common signs and symptoms of codependency include:

  • Low self-esteem caused by shame, guilt, or inadequacy  
  • Feeling guilty when said person tries to assert themselves
  • The inability to say no
  • Poor communication skills
  • Tries to fix others but not themselves
  • Lying or being dishonest
  • Needing to control all situations
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of abandonment


While it’s hard to separate from helping a loved one with an addiction, individuals have to remind themselves that they can’t take on what they’re going through. Sometimes the best thing a person can do for their loved one is to give them affection from a distance.

How Does Codependency Begin?

Oftentimes, people don’t consciously decide they’re going to involve themselves in a codependent relationship. It’s essential to understand the cause of this type of relationship. 

A study was conducted that depicted the prevalence of codependency in families, going as far as to call it a family addiction. When a person enters into treatment for their addiction, it’s not uncommon for the family to seek help for their addictions as well.

Yes, some people are indeed addicted to these codependent relationships. It’s because they’ve held onto them for so long that it’s become a part of their daily lives. Codependency develops because there are similar traits between the person that’s addicted and the codependent partner.

For example, if your spouse has addiction issues, you might not know what to do if they become sober. This is because you’re addicted to the idea of them being addicted and need them to be because you want to continue the role of being the supporter or comforter when they’re in the midst of their addiction.

In these relationships, both people depend on each other. The person in active addiction (manipulator) relies on you to be there for them whenever they need you.

And the other individual, the enabler, depends on the manipulator to continue providing them with someone that will need help no matter what.

As previously mentioned, this action and relationship happen subconsciously.  As much as the other partner doesn’t see the relationship as a codependent one, the truth is that it is. 

In codependent relationships, both parties are responsible for the toxicity that has created the connection. For both people to lead healthy lives, they must separate from each other and create boundaries. 

Without boundaries and healthy practices, it’s impossible to keep from falling into the same codependent cycles that rule your lives today.

The Link Between Drug Addiction and Codependency

The important thing to remember about codependency and addiction is one person can have both of these issues. People who struggle with addiction often find that one of their most prominent issues is codependency issues.

Because of the situation, they’ve landed themselves in with their addiction, they easily find themselves in these codependent relationships or searching for one. Frequently, those in a codependent relationship will experience feelings of guilt or shame. 

Codependent relationships make individuals ask themselves questions like: 

  • What do I have to feel guilty about? 
  • Or if the person is a parent of someone who’s fallen into a life of addiction, they begin to wonder what they didn’t do to keep them from going down this path?


People will begin to tell themselves that they have worked too much or didn’t give their significant other the attention they needed.  This makes them go down a spiral where they have to make up for this by allowing themselves to stay on this rollercoaster ride caused by their addiction.

For someone with an addiction, you might feel like you’re not someone worth saving or that you’ve become a failure to those around you. With these emotions coursing through you, it makes it easy for these codependent relationships to form.

As codependency and addiction become intertwined, it creates unhealthy patterns in the decisions you and your loved one make when dealing with each other.

Adverse Effects for the Codependent Partner

The negative effects of being in a codependent relationship with someone who uses drugs or alcohol can be felt by both individuals. 

Both individuals in a codependent relationship with a drug abuser may experience multiple negative consequences and even risks depending on the situation. 

According to a study published in the journal Science and Collective Health, codependent relationships can seriously impact the dynamics of families as well as the health of codependent individuals.

Other risks and adverse effects include: 

  • Increased risk of developing substance, food, or gambling addiction
  • Inability to maintain relationships with people outside the codependent relationship
  • A lack of ability to manage other responsibilities outside of the codependent relationship


The person who is codependent tends to work so hard to care for the addicted loved one that they neglect their own needs.  This can lead to poor health, depression, and other mental and physical consequences.

Adverse Effects for the Addicted Partner

For the addicted partner, the codependent relationship can have adverse effects on the person’s addiction as well as their recovery outcomes.

Codependence serves as an enabling influence in the life of the individual. While the codependent person wants to help their significant other, they may also fear that if they help resolve the addict’s problem, they won’t need them any longer. 

This then affects the health and wellness of the addict.  It prevents them from getting the treatment they deserve thus never truly overcoming their substance abuse problem. 

Another risk factor that comes into play is the dependence on the addiction itself.  If the partner feels a dependence on the addiction to keep the relationship together, then returning to the relationship after treatment will increase the likelihood of relapse. 

Treatment for Codependency and Addiction

The purposeDrug addiction and co-occurring codependency require particular treatment to recover. A person’s struggles must be considered in every sign and symptom of the treatment, and not just the physical effects.

Overcoming a drug is challenging without the proper support, and while you’re not an expert in addiction treatment, there are some ways to provide your loved ones with the support they need while seeking treatment. 

One of the most essential steps to recovering from a codependent relationship is to set boundaries. By setting boundaries and sticking to them individuals show each other that they are serious and refuse to continue enabling behaviors

This also means that they get to feel the repercussions of their actions. If they continue to use and their addiction leads them to jail or being homeless, you’ve got to refrain from rescuing them.

This sends the message that while you love them, you refuse to continue being a part of the life they choose to lead.

Clients at Restore Detox Centers can achieve successful addiction recovery through our inpatient and residential treatment programs. Treatment plans for dual diagnosis patients include behavioral therapy, medication, and specialty treatments based on each patient’s needs.

Codependency and Addiction: A Cycle of Destruction

There’s no doubt that it’s unhealthy for both people involved when it comes to codependency and addiction. While you might not realize you’re in a codependent relationship, it’s important both you and your loved one seek help to create a more prosperous future.

First things first is to find a treatment facility that will provide your loved ones the tools they need to lead a healthier life.  Contact Restore Detox Centers and let us help your loved one do the hard work that needs to be done.

About Restore

Are you or someone you care about struggling with drug or alcohol addiction in San Diego, California? Look no further than Restore Detox Centers, the leading 24-hour residential treatment facility. Our dedicated team is committed to providing effective rehabilitation services tailored to your individual needs.

We understand the challenges you face on your path to recovery, which is why we offer a comprehensive range of programs, including medically assisted detox and residential treatment. Our ultimate goal is to guide you towards a life free from addiction and help you achieve long-term success. 

Rest assured that our facility is accredited by The Joint Commission, guaranteeing the highest standards of quality and safety. You can rely on our compassionate team of professionals to support you every step of the way. 

If you're ready to take the first step towards healing, don't hesitate to contact Restore Detox Centers today. Let us be your trusted partner in your journey to recovery.

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