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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

Codependency and Addiction, Part 2-min
Codependency and Addiction, Part 2

While codependency and addiction were first linked with alcoholism, this form interpersonal relationship has since become associated with other addictive behaviors. Drugs, shopping, and gambling, to mention the most common. These addictive behaviors in personal relationships often trigger distinctive reactions: the addicted individual seeks to regularly fulfill his or her needs for the addictive substance or behavior, and the codependent person seeks to cover for, explain away, provide for, or in other ways mistakenly to validate and encourage the addictive behavior. However, while doing so, the codependent person may complain to others about the addictive behavior they have to deal with and represent their separation from it.


Ten Signs of Codependency:


To help to identify codependent behaviors, here are some signs to look for:


Feelings of responsibility for solving other people’s problems. A significant aspect of codependency is a need to solve another person’s problems for him or her.The codependent sincerely wants to help and feels that he or she can make a difference in improving the life of the addict. They believe that the addict is not capable for one or more reasons to help themselves, but they sincerely believe they can step in and make a difference, to lead the addict to make better decisions and to curtail the addictive behavior.


Belief that his or her advice should be heeded by the addiction dealing with his or her addiction. In the mistaken belief that no one has been successful in providing the right advice to the addict, the codependent believes that their advice will “make the difference.” Accordingly, the codependent gives his or her well-meaning advice to which the addict may seem to passively agree, but when the need of the addiction arises again, the advice is forgotten


The codependent person expects that the addict will honestly and sincerely follow his or her advice. As such, codependents are confusing the boundaries involved in the situation, their personal boundaries do not include the addict, and the addict’s personal boundaries do not include the codependent, so there is no one-to-one direct relationship between the codependent giving the advice and the addict following it.


As a result of his or her advice not being taken in and honestly and sincerely followed by the addict, the codependent person believes him or herself to be underappreciated and used. Typically, the codependent person will focus a lot of time and energy in trying to “fix” the life of the addict. While the codependent wants to help the situation and change the addict’s life for the better, for the addict, the addiction is more important, so the advice and help of the codependent is ignored or violated in the pursuit of the addiction. This has an adverse effect on the codependent by making them feel to be abused, leading often to anger.


The codependent is a “people pleaser,” assuming that by pleasing another person, they will themselves benefit in some way. However, the addict sees the efforts of the people-pleasing codependent as interfering with his or her wants and needs, so, in fact, they are not “pleased” by the efforts of the codependent. As a result, the codependent will often feel victimized by the addict (which isn’t far from the truth), but this is destructive psychologically to the codependent.


The codependent will be very sensitive and take the actions of the addict very personally. Because the boundaries between the two people are unclear and conflicting, the codependent sees words and actions of the addict as personally directed, Thus, they may become “hurt” very easily by the addict This personal sensitivity, further, then creates a need in the codependent to be in control, but constantly failing in the efforts to control the addict.


The codependent individual (as indicated above) often feels neglected, abused, used, and mistreated the addict. Thus, the codependent sees him or herself as powerless and victimized by the addict. This is because they do not understand the need to create and protect their own personal boundaries, but confusing their boundaries with those of the addict.


The codependency may use one or more forms of manipulation to attempt to control the behavior of the addict. They create situations which appear to require and enforce the compliance of others in their need to control the situation and get their way. Often, these behaviors are unconscious by the codependent, but they all reflect a strong need to control which is virtually impossible over the life of the addict motivated by goals and objectives different from those of the codependent.


Codependents often consciously or unconsciously lie to themselves about the codependent situation. This is associated with making excuses for the addict. A number of techniques are developed to encounter behaviors that are disliked by the codependent about which he or she will lie to himself or others about to protect the addict and the codepedent’s assumed control of the addict. They mistakenly take the responsibility for the behaviors of the addict, and so to counter self-guilt develop ways to blame other people to rationalize the behavior of the addict. By lying to themselves about the addict, the codependent mislead him or herself to believe they are asserting some control over the situation.


Major motivations for the codependent is the fear of rejection by the addict and the feeling of being unloveable.Innately, the codependent believes that success in influencing the addict will encourage the addict to depend on and love them more. However, the reverse is often the case, with the increasingly controlling behavior of the codependent alienating the addict. While the codependent may believe he or she is motivated by love, the addict will see the efforts to control as negative and drive the addict from the codependent. With the fear of rejection and needing to be loved, the codependent seeks to create a stable and trusting relationship with the addict, but the addict sees this situation otherwise, as negative and fearful of the control of another person affecting the addictive behavior which is the priority.


Addiction-related codependency is a learned behavior arising from emotional needs and wants, and the first step in dealing with and ameliorating codependent behavior with addicts is positive treatment by psychological counseling. The purposes of the counseling is to identify the core elements in the personality that contribute to the codependent behavior, specifically identify the codependent behaviors, and establish a program to terminate the codependent behaviors. Also, of course, the addict him or herself who is the object of the caretaker behavior can benefit directly from psychological counseling. Thus, in non-emergency situations, the consultation with a professional psychologist is a logical first place to start.




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