What is Co-Dependency and How Does It Impact Recovery From Addiction?

Recovery from addiction is an everyday battle for most, however recovery can become more complex if a recovering user is also still struggling with co-dependent behaviors.

Co-dependency is defined as the excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. This type of issue can be extremely detrimental for not only the person who has it, but also for the person he or she is co-dependent on. In most cases, co-dependency is linked to a mental illness or an addiction problem.

How Can Co-Dependency Threaten Addiction Recovery?

If a recovering user is continually struggling with co-dependency issues during their recovery, he or she can threaten their overall addiction recovery to a point where they relapse and/or re-develop a full-blown addiction. Some of the many ways in which this can occur can include the following:

  • Not caring for themselves – A common trait of co-dependency is an individual caring more about others than themselves. While when controlled, caring for others is an excellent quality to have, doing it to excess can make it impossible for a recovering user to take enough care to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Neglecting their recovery needs because they are too concerned about others can lead to a relapse.
  • Being indecisive – Co-dependents are also generally indecisive, as they are constantly looking for others to validate their thoughts, opinions and actions. Therefore, it can become complicated for them to find and stick to a routine that they have chosen as a positive method of staying sober during their recovery.
  • Feeling underappreciated – Because co-dependents tend to do so much for others, they often begin feeling resentful of those whom they are caring for, especially if not enough gratitude or praise is being shown towards them. This can cause a breakdown in self-esteem, leading to depression and anxiety that can ultimately become responsible for relapse and/or continued use.

In addition to not caring for themselves, being indecisive and feeling underappreciated, recovering users who struggle with co-dependency can also threaten their sobriety by feeling pressured, using blame as an excuse for their behaviors, and/or abandoning their daily routine to accommodate another.

Getting Help For Co-Dependent Behavior

For recovering users, co-dependent behavior is highly dangerous as it can threaten the sobriety they have worked so hard to achieve. Therefore, it is crucial that a recovering user who is also experiencing co-dependency find continued treatment that can help control their behaviors and preserve their sobriety. Most commonly, individuals in this situation seek therapeutic care such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and more. These treatments can help an individual in this situation learn how and why their behaviors are impacting their recovery so they can start making positive changes that help maintain their sobriety.

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