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Identifying Signs of Codependency in Your Relationship

Codependency often exists in relationships with those who have substance use disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, you may be wondering if you have a codependent relationship as well. What causes a codependent relationship? How can you recognize codependency? At Gateway Foundation, we provide useful information about how to reach recovery and build healthier connections.

What Is a Codependent Relationship?

A codependent relationship is one in which people neglect their own needs to meet those of the other person. Each individual forfeits their wellbeing and values to completely focus on assisting the other person.

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral disorder. While predisposition for the disorder can be inherited, people in a codependent relationship often create an unhealthy attachment as a result of low self-esteem. A codependent person may become involved with people who are irresponsible and needy, and these relationships are frequently abusive.

Who Does Codependency Affect?

Romantic relationships are not the only kind of bond that can be codependent. Codependency can affect many people, such as spouses, children, parents, siblings, coworkers and friends of a person who is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. For example, if a parent is codependent, this could lead their child to codependency, as a reversal in the roles of parent and child are likely to occur. In this situation, the child’s developmental needs are thus not met. The cycle of codependency continues.

Common Behaviors and Characteristics of Codependent People

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of codependency when you’re experiencing it up close. The following are some common behaviors and characteristics of codependent people:

  • Lying frequently
  • Displaying chronic anger or depression
  • Struggling to identify feelings
  • Needing to control other people
  • Wanting to be loved by everyone
  • Needing recognition and approval
  • Fearing abandonment or being alone
  • Feeling guilty about asserting themselves
  • Demonstrating difficulty in adjusting to change
  • Displaying problems with boundaries or intimacy
  • Remaining loyal despite the harmful relationship
  • Feeling hurt when their efforts go unacknowledged
  • Feeling an exaggerated sense of responsibility for another person’s actions
  • Willing to hold onto relationships by any means necessary to avoid abandonment
  • Confusing pity and love, meaning they tend to love people who they pity and can rescue

Consequences of Codependency

A codependent relationship can be extremely dangerous, particularly when one or both of the people in the relationship are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The cycle of codependent behavior and substance abuse will continue — and unfortunately, the cycle often ends in a tragic event, such as an auto accident, overdose, job loss or divorce. To effectively break the cycle before a tragedy, a person should seek treatment for both codependency and addiction.

How to Fix a Codependent Relationship

Do you want to learn how to become less codependent in a relationship? With personalized treatment, you can overcome codependency and addiction problems. At Gateway Foundation, we have been providing addiction treatment for more than 50 years. To learn more about how to change a codependent relationship, contact us today.

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