An addiction to a substance such as drugs or alcohol is a complex matter. It not only affects the person who is using these substances, but it also affects those people around you as well. Codependency is a behavior that can occur in relationships in which one person has an addiction. Knowing the signs of codependency is crucial in addressing this common response to substance use disorders.
What Is Codependency?
At its core, codependency involves one person sacrificing their needs to meet those of other people around them. A common scenario involves the spouse of a person who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. The spouse’s actions and thoughts revolve around the person who is addicted, leaving their own needs unmet.
While codependency doesn’t meet the criteria of being a mental health disorder, it can cause problems for the person who is experiencing it. If you are codependent, you might develop anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
Signs Of Codependency
The field of psychology uses the term “codependency” to describe the actions, behaviors, and attitudes of a person instead of the relationship. A key element of being codependent is that you unconsciously build your identity around the concept of helping others. You might deny your own emotions or desires in order to gain the approval of others. This tends to validate your self-worth.
Some of the more common signs of codependency include the following:
A person who is showing signs of codependency might feel like they are responsible for keeping other people happy. For example, you might have a difficult time putting your own needs first, saying no to others, or displaying your true feelings. These actions are often rooted in a desire to avoid upsetting them.
At first glance, it can seem like control issues don’t mesh with codependency. Digging further, though, reveals the link between a person’s self-worth and the well-being of others. A failure on the part of someone you love — if they relapse, for example, or fail to meet a responsibility — can feel as though you have failed also. In order to avoid this, you might unconsciously shift into behavior that is possessive or controlling.
Codependency can result if a person doesn’t believe they deserve to be happy. They might not value themselves, so they look to others as proof that they are valuable. If you feel gratified because someone needs you, it might be because you’re codependent on that person. Codependency can also make you feel worthless and shame.
A person who is codependent often displays an image of competence, self-reliance, and confidence. It’s not uncommon for such people to take on responsibilities that are beyond what they can handle. Making a mistake or receiving criticism from others can make feelings of insecurity arise.
If you are codependent, you might feel like your duty is to protect those that you love from being in harm’s way. In many cases, this feeling is something that you don’t realize is evident or you might try to explain it away.
A common sign of codependency is that you try to fix the mistakes that your loved one makes. Doing so can make it difficult for other people to learn how to be independent and learn from their mistakes. It can also enable those people who are addicted.
Contact Santé Center for Healing Today
At Santé Center for Healing, there is a solid focus on the family. We know that family dynamics and the support of loved ones is an important element in recovery. This is why our compassionate treatment staff includes the family in a number of recovery elements. Call us today at 866.238.3154 to learn more about our innovative approach.