Unfortunately addiction and codependency often go hand in hand. To truly understand how these two interact with each other it is important to understand what codependency is.
Codependency is a term used to describe an unhealthy relationship. In codependent relationships one half will prioritize their partners happiness over their own. Often this codependency takes the shape of one partner being a caretaker for the other. This is especially relevant when the other partner is suffering from addiction.
The tricky aspect of codependent relationships is identifying when you are in one. This is tricky because you are supposed to be supportive in a relationship and it is hard to tell when this support becomes toxic. Luckily codependent relationships often have tell tale signs:
- Providing money to a partner to support a habit
- Avoiding conflict at all costs, denying problems
- Feeling responsible for your partner’s thoughts and actions
- Saying “yes” even when you want to say “no”
- Prioritizing your partner’s happiness over your own
- Making excuses to cover up your partner’s addiction
Dangers of Codependency
As you can see there is a heavy overlap of addiction and codependency with addiction being both a cause and effect of a codependent relationship. Someone suffering from addiction can slowly draw their partner into a codependent relationship, while the partner can then develop an addiction because of the stress and anxiety caused by being codependent.
Another danger of codependency is that all other relationships can start to unravel. Dedicating all of your time and energy to your partner will quickly make it impossible to maintain relationships with your friends and sometimes even your family.
Luckily there are clear ideas that will help you avoid getting into a codependent relationship or to gain freedom from one.
Freedom from Codependency
Overcoming codependency can be a long and rigorous journey filled with ups and downs. To best navigate this journey it is good to trust a professional therapist or other professional. This professional will help you create and maintain safe boundaries and prioritize self care.
Set and Maintain Boundaries
Setting and maintaining boundaries is most easily done at the beginning of relationships but it can still be done later in the relationship. Setting boundaries starts with making your feelings known and identifying what makes you feel that way.
Feeling resentful when asked to do things, neglecting your instincts and feelings, or skipping out on personal responsibilities can all be clear signs that it is time to set up boundaries.
To avoid feeling resentful when asked to do things it can be beneficial to draw a clear line on what you are and aren’t comfortable doing. If things like lying and covering for your significant other add to your stress then it is very important to let them know that you will no longer be doing that.
Similarly it is important to let your partner know what else has been making you uncomfortable or unhappy so that you can avoid doing them in the future. Maintaining these boundaries will still be difficult and may lead to some disagreements, but establishing them is a huge first step in escaping codependency.
Prioritize Self Care
Once boundaries are clearly set up it is time to start prioritizing your own self care. Self care involves your mental, emotional, and physical feelings. To start it is vital that you acknowledge that you are in a codependent relationship. Once you come to terms with that you need to start identifying things that you like to do but have not been doing due to your relationship.
Rekindling friendships, restarting hobbies, and in general prioritizing your own happiness will all help you see your codependence and work to move past it.
If you aren’t sure where to start when prioritizing your self care you can try joining a gym or attending yoga classes. Not only will these classes encourage exercise which helps you clear your mind and feel better, but they will also help you create new friendships. Maintaining these friendships will then help you feel more independent and happy.
Another great way to prioritize self care is to simply schedule alone time. This alone time can be a long relaxing bath, some reading outside, or some other leisure activity you enjoy. In the end it is not the activity that is important, it is the alone time.
This time will give you a break from the codependency where you can think and reflect on your relationship. Scheduling this time is key because it shows that you need to be alone but not in a reactionary way, which should limit the stress put on your partner.
Freedom from Addiction and Codependency
Clearly addiction and codependency are difficult problems that go hand in hand with both being a cause and effect of each other. Due to these similarities there are similar processes involved with gaining freedom from them.
In both cases it is vital that you set and maintain boundaries that will set you back and cause the problem to get worse. After you have set up these boundaries it is important to prioritize your own happiness and healthiness.
Where these two problems differ is that codependency involves two people, making it more awkward and difficult to come to terms with and eventually address. Having an open conversation with your partner while you start to set boundaries and focus on yourself will go a long way in helping you repair the relationship and get to a happier place.
In both instances it is extremely beneficial to involve a professional therapist or other professional program. This professional will help guide you through the difficult journey that is a life of sobriety and freedom from codependency.