Co-dependency and addiction

Codependency, characterised by excessive physical or emotional reliance on another person, can contribute to and exacerbate substance and behavioural addictions. A dual diagnosis of codependency and addiction is a particularly complex, and often toxic combination that requires professional care. Although it may seem impossible to break these unhealthy behaviour patterns, you can overcome these conditions and find fulfilment and happiness with the right help.

Co-dependency and addiction - hands chained together

What is codependency?

Codependency describes the act of relying emotionally or physically on another person to an excessive degree, particularly for supporting an illness or addiction. Codependency can manifest in various ways, such as people-pleasing, difficulty making decisions, fear of abandonment, low self-esteem and a need for control. It can also contribute to the development of addiction, as codependent individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their overwhelming emotions.

How does codependency develop?

Codependent behaviour often stems from growing up in a dysfunctional family environment where you may have learned to prioritise the needs of others before your own. This leads to a learned reliance on others to feel validated and worthy. If you struggle with codependency, you may be unable to maintain healthy, balanced relationships. You may place an excessive focus on the needs and wants of others, often at the expense of your own well-being.

Signs and symptoms of codependency

Signs and symptoms that may present themselves in a codependent person include:

  • Going to extreme lengths to please others, even to the detriment of your own happiness
  • Inability to set boundaries and say no to others, possibly leading to your being taken advantage of
  • Fears of being abandoned or rejected by others
  • Lacking a sense of self-worth
  • Feeling the need to control others or the environment
  • Taking on a ‘caretaker’ role and feeling responsible for the emotions of others
  • Neglecting your own needs and well-being
  • Feeling anxious or stressed about your relationships
  • Feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted by your social interactions

If you have noticed any of the above signs in your own behaviour and have started to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, Recovery Lighthouse can assist. Our experienced team can teach you vital coping strategies that can help you navigate relationships and maintain a healthier mindset, all while assisting with your substance addiction.

The link between codependency and addiction

Codependency and addiction are two separate conditions, but we frequently see a strong link between the two with one often leading to the other.

Codependency leading to addiction…

If you suffer from codependency as a primary condition, you may use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress and negative emotions. You will be more likely to experience anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, and this leaves you susceptible to addiction as you may try to self-medicate using substances.

Addiction leading to codependency…

If addiction is the primary condition, it may lead to symptoms of codependency as you start to rely on certain people to soothe feelings of guilt and shame. Substance abuse and addiction can leave you feeling lonely and vulnerable, and exacerbate mental health issues like anxiety. You may become codependent on a loved one for validation of your own self-worth.

What causes codependency and addiction?

A dual diagnosis of codependency and addiction is complex and can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors.

  • Genetic: research has found that our genetics play a huge role in the development of addiction, and can also be responsible for certain personality traits associated with codependent behaviour.
  • Environmental: as well as genetics, addiction and codependency can also be learned behaviours observed as a child. For example, having a parent with a substance abuse disorder may have taught you to be a caregiver at an early age.
  • Psychological: Experiencing past trauma, high stress levels and mental health issues can also impact the development of these conditions.

In order to establish the causes of codependency and addiction, it is important to look at childhood experiences and address any issues that have been carried through to adulthood. Recovery Lighthouse can help you to understand the root causes of your codependency and addiction and teach you how to overcome them.

What challenges do codependency and addiction sufferers face?

Individuals struggling with codependency and addiction face unique challenges that can make it difficult to recover and maintain sobriety. Some of the challenges that you may face include:

  • Difficulty in relinquishing control: If you are codependent, you may have a strong need for control, making it hard to accept treatment. Taking that first step, however, is your opportunity to positively control a successful and manageable recovery.
  • Difficulty trusting others: You may struggle to trust others if you are suffering from codependency and addiction, but at Recovery Lighthouse, we strive to create a friendly and welcoming space where you can form healthy connections with staff and peers.
  • Fear of abandonment or judgement: Abandonment issues and a fear of being judged can hold you back from getting the help you need, but our team is here to support you. We have years of experience in treating codependency and addiction and will provide you with the tools you need to overcome these issues.
  • Inability to recognise needs: It is possible that you struggle to recognise your own needs and may find it difficult to set boundaries. This can make it difficult to identify and address underlying problems, but our qualified therapists will guide you through the process.

Co-dependency and addiction

Rehab treatment for codependency and addiction is not without its challenges, but the journey is worth it. With the right support and resources, you will be able to maintain healthy relationships, improve your mental health and achieve lasting sobriety.

Is treatment available for codependency and addiction?

Recovery Lighthouse offers a holistic, person-centred approach to treatment for mental health and addiction. At our facility, you will have access to a wide variety of therapies and supportive care, including:

With our effective programme, you not only learn how to manage your codependency and addiction, but also develop healthy lifestyle habits to take forward into everyday life. Our team aims to heal you from the inside out, tackling both the psychological and physical aspects of substance abuse and codependent behaviours.

Frequently asked questions

Is codependency a form of addiction?
Co-dependency is sometimes referred to as a “relationship addiction”; however, it is more an emotional and behavioural condition that affects your ability to form healthy relationships. While co-dependency shares some characteristics with addiction, such as a loss of control and negative consequences, it is primarily a pattern of emotional and behavioural responses.
How is treatment for addiction different in cases of co-dependency?
Treatment for addiction in cases of codependency may require a greater focus on therapies that focus on relationship dynamics, building healthy boundaries and developing self-esteem and self-worth. Addressing codependency concurrently with addiction can improve the chances of long-term recovery and healthy relationships.
What therapy modality is best for co-dependency?
Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviour patterns, while dialectical behavioural therapy will focus on managing your emotions. Family therapy can be another useful tool for those who have experienced fractured relationships within the family dynamic.