5 Signs You Might Be Codependent
Substance abuse and addiction cause people to lose control of their lives. Addiction can make people unable to manage their own time, money, and relationships effectively, leading to a range of minor, moderate, and severe consequences. Addicts often look to those they love the most for help to avoid the negative consequences of their addiction, but suffering those consequences is often a vital process that will ultimately help them to confront their addiction and find recovery. Protecting someone from the consequences of their addiction is known as enabling because it enables them to continue under the delusion that their drug use does not negatively affect themselves or those around them.
An extreme form of enabling is known as codependency. When someone enables an addict over and over again because part of their identity comes from the role they play in their loved one’s addiction, they are codependent. In a sense, they have become addicted to their loved one’s addiction. Codependency normally occurs in relationships with very deep emotional attachments, often between a parent and child or between spouses or siblings.
Here are five signs that you may be codependent:
1. You find yourself covering for the addict.
Are you making excuses for your loved one? Making up stories to explain strange behavior? Doing their work or covering their responsibilities? Lying for them? Rationalizing their embarrassing or dangerous behavior?
Covering for an addict is a classic way of enabling their addiction and could indicate possible codependency.
2. You take pride in being “the glue that holds it all together.”
Do you take pride in the way you are able to manage your life, marriage, or family despite the chaos caused by addiction? Do you wear your hardship like a badge of honor instead of reaching out for help or confronting your loved one about his/her behavior? You might be codependent.
3. You make threats but never follow through.
Maybe you have threatened to leave if things didn’t change, or to kick your loved one out of the house, or to cut off the money, or to call the police. But these threats don’t have any meaning anymore because you and your loved one both know you won’t ever follow through. An inability to set healthy boundaries and follow through when those boundaries are crossed can sometimes indicate codependency.
4. You buy drugs for them.
This is a pretty big give away that you might be codependent. Have you bought drugs or alcohol for your loved one or given them money to do so? You may have done it out of pity or guilt or just because they nagged you so much, but contributing financially to someone’s addiction is a classic form of enabling and often indicates codependency.
5. You use with them.
Have you used with your loved one, even though you know they are addicted? One sign of codependency is being unable to interact with your loved one in healthy ways that do not involve their addiction. Desperate for interaction of some sort, codependents will sometimes drink or take drugs with their addicted loved one, even though it furthers their addiction.
If you identify with these signs of codependency, you should consider seeking help for your condition with a trained counselor or through a twelve step program like codependents anonymous. If you have a loved one who is addicted, consider enrolling them in the residential treatment program at Serenity House. We also offer free family counseling and education to help loved ones suffering from codependency.
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