The rates of suspected codependency across the United States vary based on sources and samples. A military study suggests that 90% of the American population demonstrates some form of codependent behavior Another study shows that about 50% of college students display codependent tendencies. Although many studies suggest that codependent behavior is more common in women than men, it’s important to note that anyone can become codependent. Similarly, anyone can develop an addiction. Codependency and addiction often co-occur.
Having a better understanding of both codependency and addiction can help individuals recognize signs in themselves. It can also help concerned friends or family members recognize signs in loved ones.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency occurs when one person needs another to function. Needs can be emotional, spiritual, or physical. People become codependent on one another. Since one person’s need to be needed is continual, and the other person’s feeling of needing of the other is also continual, codependency can create an endless, unhealthy cycle that needs treatment to overcome.
What Are the Effects of Codependency?
While codependency is not a clinical diagnosis, it’s something that can overlap with personality disorders. Codependency often relates to maladaptive behaviors or toxic attachment development patterns that people learned in childhood.
With an unhealthy balance of give and take, one person’s needs in a codependent relationship aren’t met. As time passes, the person who gives more in a codependent relationship tends to suffer. This can cause that person to develop mental and physical health issues.
Although codependency is especially problematic in romantic relationships and marriages, it also negatively affects family relationships, friendships, and professional relationships. However, the other person can also suffer. When a person constantly tries to give and please another person, the person who is the giver can become an enabler. The individual may enable the other person’s laziness, drug abuse, drinking, overeating, abuse, and more.
What Are Signs of Codependency?
The signs of codependency vary depending on whether a person is the giver or the taker in the relationship. Most people who feel the need to learn about codependency and suspect it in their own relationships are the ones who are the primary givers. They may feel mentally worn out, used, or even abused.
Below are some common signs of being the giver in a codependent relationship:
- Feeling the need to “tiptoe” around the other person for fear of upsetting that individual
- Trying to rescue, change or soothe people who function poorly or have perpetual problems in life
- Feeling the need to continually ask the other person for permission to do trivial things
- Apologizing often for small issues or even after doing nothing wrong
- Feeling sympathy for the other person even when that person is the one behaving hurtfully
- Doing anything the other person wants and violating personal boundaries to do it
- Feeling the need for others’ approval or favor
- Tying others’ approval to self-esteem
- Putting another person on a pedestal without any merit
- Feeling a loss of sense of self
- Not having time for personal care, hobbies, or goals because of another person
What Is Addiction?
In the past, people poorly understood addiction. With modern medicine and science, researchers and doctors now have a better understanding of addiction and why it is a brain disease. The reason why addiction is a disease of the brain is because substance abuse changes brain chemistry. Thus, substance abuse also changes how people perceive rewards or pleasure. This, in turn, alters behaviors.
For example, a person who is normally honest and follows laws may develop an addiction to pain medication after surgery. Abusing the substance for a long period of time causes that person to experience changes in brain chemistry that can affect the person’s judgment. As a result, the individual may now lie about persistent pain to obtain more drugs or the individual may steal from family members.
Just as a person needs medical treatment for any other disease or illness, an individual needs treatment to overcome addiction and its physical effects. Addiction treatment helps people overcome emotional and spiritual issues as well.
Thanks to modern science and technology, the positive effects of addiction treatment and recovery on the brain are visible on imaging scans for brain health. Healthy brain activity is noticeably better after 14 months of abstinence from a substance.
Why Do Codependency and Addiction Co-Occur?
As noted before, codependent relationships tend to be destructive since one person’s behaviors often enable the behaviors in another person. A codependent person who feels the need to give endlessly may truly want to help the other person. However, the other person may present convincing arguments as to why a negative behavior is necessary. This is what often happens when addiction and codependency occur together.
There are several reasons why codependency often co-occurs with addiction. First, it can occur in the partner who is the primary taker because of the person’s ability to influence the primary giver. Wanting to rescue people who have troubles is often what attracts primary givers to primary takers with addictions. The primary giver may also develop a substance use disorder as a way to cope with low self-esteem, burnout, and other negative effects of codependency.
What Are the Effects of Codependency and Addiction
When someone who struggles with addiction is in a codependent relationship, the combination of problems exacerbates the negative effects of codependency. This is true for codependent friendships, marriages, partnerships, family relationships, and professional relationships.
The primary giver in a codependent relationship feels the need to be accountable to the primary taker, but the primary taker has nobody to be accountable to. This leads to more potential for substance abuse and other forms of abuse by the primary taker.
People who are primary givers may give so much of themselves to their primary takers that they sacrifice their other relationships. They tend to give up family responsibilities, social commitments, and even work commitments to help their codependent partners, friends, or family members.
When primary givers lose touch with others and have nobody else to turn to for support, they are more likely to turn to substance abuse. Some primary givers may still not turn to substances when their codependent relationships end. Instead, they may develop other addictions. For example, they could become addicted to gambling, eating, or something else.
Both people in a codependent relationship are more susceptible to addiction than the average person. Both people in a codependent relationship are also more susceptible to mental health issues. These mental health issues may be new or exacerbated.
Someone who already has anxiety may notice worsening symptoms. A person may even develop depression in a codependent relationship because of the relationship’s negative effects.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for People That Suffer from Codependency and Addiction
Now that you understand how codependency and addiction negatively affect one another, you can probably see why treating both conditions simultaneously would be helpful. The same is true with any mental health issue and addiction when they co-occur. Not treating both co-occurring issues simultaneously leaves one set of needs unmet and able to trigger the treated issue.
Thus, if someone that suffers from codependency and addiction attends drug rehab but doesn’t simultaneously attend rehab for codependency, the lingering codependency may trigger the re-occurrence of that person’s addiction. The same is true if a person tries to attend rehab for codependency without simultaneously attending drug rehab for their co-occurring addiction.
Dual diagnosis treatment addresses and treats co-occurring disorders together for better outcomes. People with co-occurring disorders that don’t receive dual diagnosis treatment have a higher risk of relapse.
Finding Rehab for Codependency and Addiction
Finding rehab for codependency and addiction in the form of dual diagnosis treatment is a critical first step in beating both conditions. Here at Florida Center for Recovery, we offer dual diagnosis treatment programs for a wide variety of co-occurring disorders such as codependency and addiction.
When treating people with codependency and addiction, we show them how to protect themselves and create healthy boundaries. We also teach them the tools to identify and change their negative thoughts and emotions so that they can better manage their addiction triggers and beat the cycle of addiction.
Our skilled team understands the unique complexities of codependency and addiction and how they affect one another. The Florida Center for Recovery team also knows the right strategies when it comes to dual diagnosis treatment. That way we produce more effective outcomes that reduce the risks of relapse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with codependency and addiction, we are here to help. To learn more about treating co-occurring disorders that involve addiction, please contact us. Our Fort Pierce facility proudly serves local residents and people from other areas in Florida.