Addiction is a challenging disease. It is multifaceted and can have a severe impact on a person’s mental and physical health as well as relationships both personally and professionally. Through active addiction, individuals are prone to disastrous behavior and developing relationships that may not be conducive to recovery. In a perfect world, a community of supporters should enable individuals suffering from substance abuse to find recovery. In reality, substance abuse cascades into a number of other situations including attracting codependency within platonic and romantic relationships. The dynamic of codependency and addiction is complex, and many experienced psychologists and addiction specialists identified outside factors that can hinder a person’s ability to find and maintain sobriety long-term.
Codependency and Addiction Can Be Detrimental to Both Partners
Codependency frequently appears in relationships where an addiction is present and spiraling out of control. Codependency is often referred to as a type of relationship addiction, as well. It is emotionally one-sided and can be detrimental to both partners. For example, a person with a substance abuse problem may be less inclined to seek help if they have reason to believe that their behavior is accepted by an enabling loved one. Relationships can be extremely complex. A codependent person may unknowingly try to keep an individual from seeking proper treatment for fear of losing them once they achieve sobriety.
According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, codependency may actually increase the likelihood of relapse once treatment programs are completed. For this reason, codependency and addiction are often treated together so as to mitigate any mental health risks and possible relapses.
Over recent years, counselors and psychologists transitioned their conceptualization of addiction. Instead of viewing addiction as a lack of willpower or treating addiction through a “shame-based” model, most providers and physicians agree addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. Conceptualizing addiction as a disease allowed researchers and practitioners to examine more potential factors that may contribute to addiction. The disease concept of addiction is considered a major breakthrough by experienced therapists and addiction specialists.
However, it is important to note the change in the conceptualization of addiction does not discount the importance of mental well-being. In fact, most alcohol abuse and dependence diagnoses are correlated with increased co-occurring mental health disorders, stress, depression, and an overall sense of a decreased quality of life. Co-occurring disorders are particularly challenging. One area of treatment has proven highly effective in treating alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence has been couples counseling or relational therapy. According to Psychology Today, “Relational therapy, sometimes referred to as relational-cultural therapy, is a therapeutic approach based on the idea that mutually satisfying relationships with others are necessary for one’s emotional well-being”.
Treatment of Codependency and Addiction
Relational counseling considers a couple’s race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, social status and explores the areas of conflict and similarities between these demographics. Other areas of counseling similar to relational therapy include family therapy, group therapy, and multicultural therapies. All of these fields of psychology center around the importance of relationships and mental health. Because addiction treatment relies heavily on interpersonal relationships, treatment programs should address the community of supporters an individual has to support long-term sobriety.
Family members and loved ones should be able to draw boundaries and assert their independence in order to properly take care of their own mental health while simultaneously finding objective, non-judgmental resources for getting their loved ones the help they require. Through encouragement, positive reinforcement, and motivational tactics, loved ones have shown to be more positively impactful to a person’s ability to overcome the disease of addiction.
However, codependency may halt progress and even cause unforeseen relapses if codependency has not been addressed through proven treatment modalities. Substance abuse treatment should always cater to an individual. However, established evidenced-based addiction treatment programs should also provide resources to help any codependent family members get control over codependency. Both individuals need to learn how to set boundaries and provide healthy support for the addicted partner, and also to improve self-esteem and healthy relationship values. These ideals working in tandem can make a world of difference during recovery.
What is Relationship Codependency?
According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, codependency is described as a pattern of low self-esteem, inappropriate boundaries, extreme emotional dysregulation, negative relationships, and control. There are other components to relationship codependency. It is important to note that many people may feel these symptoms of codependency at one or more points in their life. The distinguishing factor with codependency is a profound pattern of these symptoms. A codependent individual may consistently find themselves struggling with the following in their relationships:
- Low self-esteem
- Poor boundaries
- Fear of abandonment
- Fear of intimacy
- Depression and Anxiety
- Sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
Codependency is very difficult and can lead to further problems that involve addiction and unsafe boundaries. As stated above, an individual may experience these symptoms, but if there is an ongoing pattern, it is important to speak with trained professionals regarding possible treatment or therapy.
How Does Codependency Impact Addiction?
Addiction is often engaged in with other friends or family. Because of the relationship component within addiction, it is critical to understand relationship patterns. The symptoms of codependency are also considered risk factors for alcoholism and other drug use disorders. This places those individuals at an elevated risk for developing a substance use disorder. Also, intimate relationships are valued heavily by codependent individuals. Partners sometimes also struggle with substance use problems. A codependent person may develop other issues such as setting appropriate boundaries. This is a vicious cycle and can lead both men and women into unsafe situations and problematic drug use.
Codependency and Addiction Recovery Issues
Codependent relationships also have a significant impact on recovery. One of the most helpful components for effective recovery is a supportive community. Codependent relationships are one-sided and can have a significant impact on treatment and recovery outcomes. Understanding the relationship between codependency and addiction is often difficult and scary. AspenRidge understands this and is dedicated to providing confidential consultations and assessments for those seeking rehabilitative treatment. All staff is highly trained and we follow all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) laws. We understand that treatment is hard work and we work hard to provide safe services. The AspenRidge staff is here to discuss any related concerns and will connect individuals with appropriate personnel to handle these delicate situations.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
As was indicated above, relationships play a critical role in recovery and it is AspenRidge’s dedication to aiding the recovery process through safe and confidential treatments. The staff is highly trained in assessment and able to provide further information on safely obtaining sobriety prior to admittance into the rehabilitative programs. It is highly encouraged for prospective clients to contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-288-5588 to speak to staff about various programs or to verify different insurance plans. Further information can also be found at www.aspenridgerecoverycenters.com. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is important and AspenRidge is a confidential source to discuss recovery and how a challenging relationship may impact recovery. AspenRidge is dedicated to helping in the recovery process and connecting those with proper community resources.