Codependency Disorder and How it Plays into Family Dynamics

Codependency disorder results from dysfunctional relationships with others. Therefore, people who struggle with codependency often find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships. Codependency disorder is often referred to as a “relationship addiction.” Due to low self-esteem, each codependent person may feel they cannot be without the other.

Codependency is common in those close to someone with a substance abuse problem.  Parents, siblings, or friends can be codependent. However, codependency also occurs without any chemical dependency involved. Most of all, families that do not feel comfortable talking about problems develop codependency patterns. As a result, family members suppress their issues and ignore specific needs. Furthermore, this leads to detachment from the family and their own identity.

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency Disorder

The signs and symptoms of codependency can vary. They may include:

  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Trust issues with themselves and others
  • Unable to set healthy boundaries
  • Constant desire for approval from peers and family
  • Fear of conflict
  • Frequent job changes and spontaneous behavior
  • Addictive or compulsive behaviors

Do you relate with any of the signs of codependency in your relationships with your family, friends, or coworkers? Is an addiction or mental illness increasing as a result of this unhealthy dynamic? If so, please contact Newport Academy today. Our clinical experts will provide you with advice on how you can eliminate codependent patterns, and restore your relationships.

NIDA Study on Codependency in the Addict’s Family

In a recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, codependency was found to be a common trait in mothers in general and specifically in the families of addicts.  In fact, 80 percent of the mothers presented some level of codependency. However, the key point made was the difference in the degree of codependency. For example, the majority of the mothers showed light (48.2%) to moderate (28.2%) levels of codependency. In contrast, severe levels of codependency (3.5%) proved to be relatively rare. This confirms the presence of codependency disorder in these mothers and could be derived from the affective relation with the drug abuser relative.

In terms of the sociodemographics, the study’s data also shows an association between codependency disorder and education level.  Hence, he higher the level of education, the lower the level of codependency. However, there was no association between the patient’s age or gender in terms of the codependency disorder. As a result, it seems as though education is the key mitigating factor.

How Does Codependency Feed the Addiction Cycle?

When dealing with cases involving addiction, a family member or friend often convinces themselves that the addict will not survive without them. As a result, they make it their job and their identity to ensure the safety and well-being of the person with a substance abuse issue. They may go as far as:

  • Provide bail money
  • Clean up after a night of using
  • Make missed bill payments
  • Provide spending money (that usually gets used for drugs)
  • Make them food
  • Clean their house

Although the caretaker shows disappointment in the addict’s behavior, they continue to enable it. They never make the addict responsible for their own actions. Moreover, caretaker needs to feel needed. Such a feeling characterizes the codependent relationship. Hence, this need leads to further enabling.