Codependency in addiction

In the drug rehab and recovery scene, the term ‘codependent’ is frequently discussed and debated. It’s important to know exactly what this terminology means and how to identify whether you may be a key player in this unhealthy type of relationship. When a person is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, the support that family and other close relationships provide can be vital in helping the person overcome their addiction. Offering emotional support, motivating them, and providing practical help throughout the treatment and recovery process can make all the difference for the addicted person. On the other hand, if codependency exists within these relationships, it can have the opposite effect, resulting in increased potential that the individual will relapse even after receiving effective, research-based treatment.

What is Codependency?

In many of the Australian drug rehabs and drug support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, the subject matter of codependency is regarded as a complex topic. If you ask different people who are affected by drug depency issues what the exact meaning of  codependency is, you would probably get several different answers depending on who you ask. From the viewpoint of the codependent, they would most likely say that codependency typically happens when the addicted individual unintentionally takes advantage of the person trying to help them. If you were to ask someone suffering from drug and alcohol addiction what codependency is, they would likely describe codependency as an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on an addicted partner. Both these definitions are correct. Resolving a codependent relationship isn’t something that happens overnight. That’s why many Australians have opted to go overseas to take advantage of low-cost rehab options in the Philippines and to distance themselves from these relationships.

Being aware of the dangers

If you or a loved one going through the journey of addiction recovery have already undergone treatment by one of the rehab providers in Australia, you’re probably aware that codependency behaviours can be dangerous for a person suffering from addiction and very unhealthy for the loved one who is supporting them. Codependency is one of the relationship issues that can lead to these adverse results. When a person is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, having a loved one who is codependent can make it more challenging to quit. In addition, the codependent individual is likely to jeopardize the post-treatment plan, resulting in the addicted person being more vulnerable to relapse and possibly getting caught up in old destructive behaviours.

The cycle of codependency

In its simplest terms, most residential drug rehab facilities would say that a codependent relationship is when one partner needs the other partner, who in turn, needs to be needed. This circular dramatic relationship is the basis of what experts refer to when they describe the ‘cycle’ of codependency. There is actually potential to do more harm than good when a codependent unwittingly grants a person with an addiction the tacit permission to continuously take advantage of them. Protecting the addicted person from the consequences of their actions and fueling their addiction can result in dire consequences. This type of behavior is called ‘enabling’ and the codependent person is often labelled as the ‘enabler.’ Rehabs in Australia and overseas will often recommend that those with a long history of substance abuse and codependent relationships seek out long-term rehab treatment. This is because longer term stints in drug rehab centres gives both the codependent and addicted person adequate time to be able to drill down to the core issues that are fueling the addiction and/or the codependency.

The codependency drama triangle

One of the popular codependency theories that is taught in many drug rehabs is what’s called ‘the codependency drama triangle.’ The idea of this theory is that conflict needs players and players need roles. At each point of the triangle there is a player i.e. the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer. The consequential objective of each role is just to have its own needs met, even if this is temporary, in order to feel justified in its behaviour. The important things about these roles, is that they are not fixed to an individual. The addicted person and the codependent will dance around the three corners of the triangle interchangeably in a familiar and dramatic toxic waltz. It is these rotating pattern of behaviours that ultimately, serves no one. Even when the conflict is finished, every one of those players is likely to harbor some resentment, even if their short-term emotional needs feel satisfied.

The players

The persecutors tend to always allocate the blame towards the person suffering from drug & alcohol addiction and do not stop until they have made their point. Persecutors typically criticize and blame the victim, set strict limits, and can come across as angry and unpleasant. They keep the victim feeling oppressed using threats and ultimatums. The victims see themselves as victimized, oppressed, powerless, hopeless, and ashamed. They are known to reject any responsibility for their negative circumstances and deny possession of the power to change their situation. A person in the victim role will look for a rescuer to save them from the relentless wrath of the persecutor. The rescuers tend to work hard to help others and make people feel good about themselves, while neglecting their own needs. The rescuers are known to be frequently stressed, tired, and often like to play a role as a martyr while their resentment continues to fester underneath.

Recovering from codependency

Recovery usually starts with one person in the relationship admitting that there’s a problem, whether it’s the manipulator or the enabler. This could be done of their own accord, through the help of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre or by friends and family. The moment one of the people in the codependent relationship realises that they have a problem, they can then use this awareness to step outside of the codependent relationship and get help. This is when the enabler is encouraged to seek psychotherapy while the addicted person undergoes residential drug rehab treatment. Whilst undertaking treatment, the enabler will get the chance to attend  family therapy sessions so they can understand why they were enabling their loved one and then learn how to stop this behaviour. The goal of drug rehab treatment is to teach those suffering from addiction and codependency to live a healthy life without falling back into the trap of codependency, drugs or alcohol between them. If you are a key player in a codependent relationship then get in touch with us today so we can help.