Alcoholism And Codependency
“I won’t do it anymore, I promise! Please, just don’t leave me. It will stop, I can stop. You are the only thing I need, not alcohol.” She says it with such sincerity, tears streaming down her face. You see her, your wife of 8 years, and you hear the words she says. But she is saying them while intoxicated, and this is not the first time she has said the same sentences.
You can’t help but wonder what started her drinking. She blames you, saying you work too much and she is stuck at home to cook and clean. But through every fight, every argument, every time you come home and she is drunk, you love her. She has been with you through so many hard times, you can surely bear with her while she is going through this. Lately, you have been feeling guilty about working so much, so you start buying alcohol for her as a way to show your love. This fuels the fighting, which leads to the begging to stay, and you always give in. You need her, just as much as she needs you. But this isn’t the loving relationship you signed up for, and it’s only a matter of time until you leave for good. Or is it?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17% of women aged 18 to 25 had an alcohol use disorder in 2020. Clean Recovery Centers works within our communities to provide resources to those looking to understand substance use, and how to help their loved ones. Our family therapy program helps reconnect loved ones during treatment to help build the foundation for a healthier future. Let’s take a look at alcoholism and codependency and how the two are related.
What Is Codependency?
Codependency is a behavior defined as an unhealthy attachment to another person, ignoring their own needs to take care of said person. People who are codependent often rely on their partner for emotional needs like contentment or joy. While codependency can occur in anyone, it is more likely to happen to those who are dealing with a person with substance use disorder. This can be a spouse, child, parent, or family member. The relationship becomes less about mutual satisfaction and more about what the other can do to get what they want.
Codependency and Alcohol Use Disorder: A Relationship Nightmare
Codependency and alcohol use disorder can work in two different ways. Codependence can affect one person or both in the relationship. In one instance, the person without the alcohol use disorder is the codependent one. This can be for a variety of reasons. Maybe the drinking started after they were married, and the person clings to the man/woman they fell in love with. They long to feel the love and affection they once had, so they do whatever it takes to get those feelings back. Or they have always been a high-functioning alcoholic, and it was always the other person’s job to take care of them. This provided purpose. No matter the case, the person without the alcohol use disorder often ends up as an enabler.
On the other side, the person with alcohol use disorder may be the codependent one. Alcohol affects every aspect of life – physical, mental, emotional, and financial. Maybe the person lost their job due to poor performance. But alcohol is still a need for them, so they turn to their partner or family member for money to buy it. Or maybe they have had legal troubles, and can no longer drive to get alcohol. They turn to the same people to get them what they need. But while doing so, they say whatever they think the other person needs to hear in order to get their way. A concerned wife may try to say no, but the person with alcohol addiction tells her he can’t stay with her if she can’t help him, convincing her to take him. Neither scenario benefits the relationship or the people involved.
The Link Between Alcoholism and Codependency
As with any substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder becomes the only concern of the person living with it. They will say or do anything to get their alcohol. If their partner or parent is codependent, they know they can take advantage of that relationship to get what they need. Meanwhile, the person who is codependent on the one with the alcohol use disorder will want to take care of them. They can only be happy if their partner is happy, and they see providing for the alcoholic as being needed and wanted, which is emotionally damaging.
Common Signs That May Indicate a Codependent Relationship
Common signs of codependency can include:
- Lack of boundaries
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of communication
- Giving into others when it interferes with beliefs
- High stress in relationships
- Lack of self-care
- Reacting based on others instead of self
Examples of Codependency and Enabling a Loved One
Enabling is one of the most difficult areas to address with loved ones. They want to help their partner or child with their addiction, but often, they end up fueling it further. People living with alcohol use disorder will put their drinking above any needs, whether their own or those around them. They know how to get alcohol when they want, and they can manipulate the people around them into helping. Examples of enabling a loved one with alcohol use disorder include:
- Giving money for alcohol
- Taking them to places where they can drink
- Fixing their mistakes. For example, picking them up from a car accident so they don’t get a DUI
- Allowing them to continue using resources – food, shelter, vehicles, etc.
How Can Codependency Be Potentially Dangerous?
Anger and alcoholism often go hand in hand, and for those who are codependent on the one with alcohol use disorder, there can be dangerous consequences. When the codependent person tries to stand up for themselves or say no, the person with alcoholism may become angry. They may not be a violent person, but alcohol withdrawal can make them do things they normally wouldn’t. Getting a drink is all that matters, and whether physical or mental, harm can ensue to the codependent person.
Coping With an Alcoholic Partner or Family Member
How many drinks is too many? Who are you to say your partner or family member has an alcohol use disorder? These questions are often thought of when coping with an alcoholic person. It is easy to want to blame yourself, and keep going with their wants because you feel guilty. The truth of the matter is that they are the ones with a disorder, and encouraging them to seek help can be beneficial to both of you. But codependency is also a behavioral problem, and seeking help for yourself is just as important.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder in Florida
Seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder is more than just that. Mental health plays a large role in the development of addiction, and finding an alcohol use disorder treatment that can address both will be most beneficial. Relearning yourself and what drives you will be a rewarding process, one that can give you insight into yourself and who you want to be.
If you or someone you love is managing alcohol use disorder and developed codependency, help is not far away. Clean Recovery Centers utilizes a unique, three-phase approach to addiction treatment in various locations throughout Florida. We address all aspects of alcohol use disorder and work with you to create a treatment plan that will work for you. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program options.
What is the root cause of codependency?
Codependency can occur for several reasons, but it is a learned behavior. This means it develops over time.
Are most alcoholics/addicts codependent?
Codependency is a common trait among addicts and alcoholics because they need the help of someone to keep the addiction going. Through finances, rides, and a place to stay, they can keep using while the other person takes care of them.