How are Codependence and Addiction Related?

Codependence and addiction can be related to one another and can fuel each other. The same patterns we learn that develop into codependence can also lead to addiction, and vice versa.

When we are in codependent relationships, we are emotionally dependent upon another person. We look to them for direction on how to feel, what to think, what to do. We rely on them and often feel as though we can’t cope without them. When we are codependent, we have learned to look outside of ourselves for emotional guidance. We often don’t develop the tools we need, such as emotional independence and resilience, to be happy on our own. We might find ourselves repeating cycles of toxic relationships full of conflict, turmoil and dependence. We may have a very hard time being alone. Our relationships become our form of escape. We distract ourselves from our emotional challenges with our relationships, and in the process create even more challenges to tackle.

Similarly, our addictions are a form of dependence and distraction. When we are addicted, we have become reliant on something outside of ourselves to cope with our pain. We become fixated, preoccupied, even obsessed. We center our whole world around it. Our relationships can be addictive in the same ways. We can find ourselves unable to end a toxic relationship even when it is unhealthy or even abusive. We feel addicted to other people, and we feel like we can’t let them go. We become obsessed with them and with the relationship, and we base our lives around them. Codependence and addiction function in very similar ways.

Often when we have sustained a loss or other traumatic experience, we have heightened fears of abandonment. We seek out things and people that make us feel safe, nurtured, reassured and comforted. Where we seek solace is often unhealthy, unsafe or destructive for us. We are self-destructive, and we knock ourselves down and hold ourselves back. When we look for things outside of ourselves to make us feel whole and happy, we don’t have the chance to develop emotional independence. We don’t learn how to cope on our own. We don’t learn how to find joy in life or how to love ourselves.

Codependence can develop into addiction and vice versa, and they can also co-occur and develop simultaneously. For many of us, they are inextricably linked. Healing asks that we look at how we go through our lives, what kinds of dynamics are at play in our relationships and behaviors. We can learn to be independent and manage our emotions in healthy ways.

Our treatment programs include multiple kinds of therapy, meeting groups, mindfulness and more. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.