Codependency in Addiction Recovery

Updated on 09/12/23

Codependency as a condition was discovered as a result of studying relationships within families where an alcoholic was present. This term describes an unhealthy dynamic where one or both individuals in a relationship feel excessively responsible for each other’s lives. These relationships can be intimate, familial or friendly. This learned emotional and behavioral condition tends to originate in dysfunctional families and is passed down from one generation to the next. Dysfunctional families tend to ignore or deny the underlying causes of fear, anger, pain or shame that permeates the home. This brings about further dysfunctionality and issues of codependency.

If you are codependent, you will likely find that you have significant trouble maintaining healthy and mutually satisfying relationships. You might feel, as some might phrase it, addicted to the relationship. Codependency or a relationship addiction has emotionally destructive and abusive characteristics that impair your quality of life. If addiction is involved, you can develop codependency as you make your best efforts to help your loved one. This can also develop in partners who are both addicted to substances. Codependency has also been found in individuals that have a mental disorder.  

Signs You Could Be Codependent 

Helping others is a wonderful thing to do, but taking care of yourself first is a priority that can’t be compromised. Those who are in a codependent relationship tend to excessively prioritize the needs of others over their own physical, emotional, mental and financial health. It can be hard to face the fact that you could be in such a relationship, but doing so can help you find ways to change the situation. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you able to ask for help without feeling guilty?
  • Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority?
  • When you make a mistake, do you feel like a bad person?
  • Would you say you feel responsible for the happiness of others?
  • Have you ever lived with someone that abused alcohol or drugs? 
  • When a loved one spends time with others, do you feel rejected?
  • Do you have doubts about your ability to be who you want to be?
  • Do you often choose to do what others want instead of what you want? 
  • Would you say you frequently desire that you could get more help with tasks?

This Could Lead To Addiction 

Toxic relationships are not only exhausting, but they can deteriorate your own emotional and physical health. You might start to give up on finding happiness and peace. Perhaps you have lost all direction over your own journey on this planet. Have you been working towards your life goals and living with integrity? In this state, you are vulnerable to the development of co-occurring disorders. At the same time, perhaps you pride yourself in being loyal to your loved one and can’t give up on your commitment to them. 

Still, if your responsibility to them is impoverishing your health and future, is it worth continuing without any kind of intervention? It’s important to note that this relationship not only harms you but your partner as well. For your loved one with the addiction, your codependency with them can make it harder for them to recover. Your honest efforts to care for them could actually be enabling their addiction. Some partners also have a fear in the back of their minds that, once better, the other person won’t need them anymore. This stymies any legitimate attempts at moving forward. 

There is only so much pain and struggle one person can endure. Thus, smothered by the misfortunes of others, it may come as no surprise that codependents end up using drugs or reaching for the bottle too. Moreover, codependency often starts in households where addiction is already present. Using substances to suppress your grief, then, can result in the perpetuation of the cycle of addiction. 

It’s Time to Break the Cycle

Because there are often multiple issues involved in codependent relationships, treatment will likely encompass a multi-prong approach. A substance use disorder can be treated with a combination of medication-assisted treatment, clinical therapies like cognitive and behavioral therapy and a 12-Step program. You can also learn how to set healthy boundaries that can potentially restore your relationship.

The underlying reasons for the addiction and destructive behavioral patterns – perhaps codependency in a dysfunctional family home – can be unpacked in these and others like acceptance and commitment therapy. You can also attend Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) meetings where you’ll meet others in similar situations. It’s time to rediscover yourself and learn how to manage the pain of your past so you can live your best life in fulfilling healthy relationships. 

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that materializes as an unhealthy dynamic between two people. One or both individuals in the relationship feel excessively responsible for each other’s lives, resulting in mental, physical and emotional deterioration. Is your partner addicted to drugs or alcohol? Are you obsessed with and committing all your energy toward helping them get better? If so, you could be in a codependent relationship that puts you at risk of developing your own addiction and mental health problems. Also, despite your best efforts in trying to help your partner recover, you could be enabling their addiction and impeding recovery. You can get help today for you and your partner, family member or friend. Casa Palmera is a fully licensed facility located in West L.A. that specializes in addiction and co-occurring mental conditions. We’ll guide you on this journey to resolve any codependency and substance use concerns. Contact us today.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.