What Is Codependency?

Codependency is described as a relationship where one part controls while another enables. It is not limited to two person relationships and is often found amongst the family members of addicts.

Often, the codependent parts of a relationship believe that they are helping the person with the addiction, but they may be causing the situation to worsen.

How Does Codependency Affect Addiction?

The NIDA defines addiction as a chronic disease where the person inflicted with it has little control over their own life. They will often neglect their responsibilities, which the codependent person may try to take upon themselves.


A codependent person will do whatever it takes to please the addict in their life.

They can also inadvertently fuel the addiction, giving an addict money to prevent them from stealing. Codependents of an addict can pose a serious risk for the person, and can impede the recovery process. They will not necessarily recognize or refuse to recognize that the addicted person is harming themselves.

Sometimes, codependent relationships in cases of addiction can cause irreversible damage. By ignoring or covering up signs of addiction from those outside of the relationship, or even preventing the addict themselves from realizing they have a problem, the codependent person can cause the addiction to continue.

What Are The Signs?

Codependents of addicts may often have a sense of guilt and shame about the addict. They may even lean towards perfectionism, and will do whatever they must to keep up a specific image. Often, they will ignore boundaries, frequently trying to keep tabs on the addicted person and do whatever they can to control them, even if it is obviously fruitless.

Codependents may have a fear of being rejected, and will do whatever they can to keep the addicted person happy. They will do whatever they can to please others, not just the addict, and often at their own expense.

They might not be able to successfully form healthy and loving relationships, potentially making the situation toxic for all those involved. It is possible that the codependent person will have excessive emotional responses to things, sometimes even being way overblown for the situation.

How Do You Stop It?

When there is codependency involved in an addiction, it can be a bit difficult to stop it. They may see themselves as responsible for the actions and care of the addicted person, and may refuse any outside help.

Many parts of the treatment process for addiction are designed to help more than just the addicted person, according to the NIDA. Therapy and support groups can be arranged as part of the treatment plan, showing the person how their behavior has impacted the addiction and what they can do that will actually help.

It can be difficult for them to see and acknowledge that their actions are causing more harm than good, so stopping them can take time.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, know that help is available. Contact us through our website or by phone at 800-994-1867Who Answers? in order to speak with one of our caring specialists for more information about treatment and recovery options.

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