Codependency and addiction? Let's debate!

You guys, I listened to an awesome podcast earlier (the mental illness happy hour, seriously can not recommend it warmly enough, it’s so knowledgeable and warm and honest, really loving it!) with a therapist who was being interviewed re codependency and addiction. She shared a personal theory she has developed from all her experience working and it goes like this:

Not all codependents are addicts, but all addicts are codependents.

How do you feel about this?

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Somehow I managed to get sober and stay sober for almost eight months without even knowing what a codependent is. I guess I can’t debate you.

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Well, you could be one without knowing it, of course. But yeah, you’re excused from the debate :kissing_smiling_eyes:

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I disagree. I think quite the opposite actually. I’d say addicts are more likely to be selfish, narcissistic a-holes, but that’s been my experience. :grin:

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I believe the author when they say that all they have ever met in clinic were addicts who were co-dependent. But, they haven’t met everyone whose an addict, I suspect. Now maybe they meant the person’s DOC was what they were co-dependent with?

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Hm. Codependency is not unselfish - over-giving and caretaking of a person to make one feel better about oneself, force them to be grateful and be resentful if they don’t, make oneself feel needed, that’s not exactly altruistic.

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Yeah you got a point there, she doesn’t know every single person.
No, the statement was about relationships with other people.

I think she was coming from: addicts carry their problem, their why into their relationships just as much as into other addictions (which we see when we get sober). They have low self esteem, trauma or fears that make them feel unworthy of love, so we become overinvolved in the people in our lives, don’t set boundaries, live through others etc to make up for not “naturally close” healthy respectful relationships.
I personally can definitely agreed that my relationships were not healthy, really none of them, as long as my problems weren’t adressed and I was drinking.
But I guess it’s a structural point she is making: the structure in alcoholism repeats itself in codependency, like in a different field. I found that very interesting.

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And would you say you would have been able to have normal, healthy relationships with good boundaries, without being overinvolved and controlling and being controlled by the anxiety of another, or losing yourself in another during the time you were an active alcoholic?

If codependency is defined as the enabling of a person’s addiction, under-achievement, or neglect - then I’d say yes, all addicts are co-dependent. We are our own codependents. Our internal “addict voice” - we all know that voice - sits on our shoulder, talking into our ear: you’re worthless, you’re a loser, you can’t do this.

And the cycle continues - until we break it by setting boundaries and sticking to them.

I think addicts are their own codependents, yes. We all have that voice inside us. Recovery is a process of breaking the hold that voice has over us.

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That’s what I think too.

From the book codependent no more:
“A codenpendent person is one who has let another person’s behaviour affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behaviour.
(…) But, the heart of the definition and recovery lies not in the other person - no matter how much we believe it does. It lies in ourselves, in the ways we have let other people’s behaviour affect us and in the ways we try to affect them: the obsessing, the controlling, the obsessive “helping”, caretaking, low self-worth bordering on self-hatred, self-repression, abundance of anger and guilt, peculiar dependency on peculiar people, attraction to and tolerance for the bizarre, other-centeredness that results in abandonment of self, communication problems, intimacy problems, and an ongoing whirlwind trip through the five stage grief process.”

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Yes. The codependent needs to be alongside failure. The codependent needs a “culture of dependence”, because the codependent has (unhealthily) come to believe that dependence is existence. (And in the process, the codependent erases themselves, to escape their own fears or feelings or trauma - as we erase ourselves in addiction, to escape our fears or feelings or trauma.)

It is necessary for us to develop healthy independence. When we do so, gradually, codependence dissipates - and we transition from dependent, to dependable. :innocent:

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Interesting topic! I was just talking to my sponsor yesterday about an episode from this weekend with my mom’s codependency and how I reacted – lovingly but without getting sucked in.

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Definitely counts!

My mum aswell! She drives me the fuck up the walls with it too. Do you feel like sharing a wee bit more of how you handled the situation? :pray::innocent:

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It definitely applies to me. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I saw the red flags in my own codependency. My current project on myself is to recognize those behaviors, and practice improving my reactions to those codependent thoughts and improving my understanding of why I’m attracted to codependent women.

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This has been me in every one of my relationships since I’ve been an adult. Always thinking I can help a guy who’s troubled. Even my current relationship, which was amazing for the 1st year, as we were both on the up and up in life, but then seemed to negatively affect each other with our different addictions(me-alcohol, him-drugs). And it’s now made each of us an alcoholic/addict. Still figuring out where to go from here. It’s been 4 years now and I feel stuck. But still deeply in love, so its hard.

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This sounds so tough! I feel for you guys. I’m in a similar spot with my man, we’ve been together for 13 years and deeply deeply in love but have distanced emotionally over the last years of my drinking and atrocious mental health situation. Only coming to realise these days how deep this rift is going. More than willing to put in all the work and whatever it takes, pretty much, but it is scary. And sad.
:two_hearts:

Is your bf sober now? It could be amazing, supportwise and going throgubt this journey together. But it’s also a lot with two addicts involved.

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Yup, this is pretty much the work we have to to. It’s inspiring to read you’re so alert to it, @ChristopherX! Have you had any help recognising from literature, a sponsor or the like?

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Yes, the CODA book explained so much to me. I read a lot of it a few years back, but I was still drinking at the time. I need to get another copy and re read it. I’ve posted in here regarding codependency a couple of times and got some good insight by reading previous discussions as well. Alcoholism was just my shitty coping mechanism to my life’s ups and downs, but understanding my codependency is part of the real work for me to change my thinking & behaviors.

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Thanks for the tip! I’ll check out some of your older posts and look into the coda book. Funny it never occurred to me 🤦:sweat_smile: codependency is also quickly assuming a pole position for me regarding understanding myself better. It’s all a bit hazy for me still but it’s already given me so much more peace of mind to distance and disengage a bit, even if I’m only starting to learn it. It was never really an option. :grimacing: So freaky.

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No he’s not. But he definitely supports my not drinking, bc I’m a maniac, and have put him thru a lot. His drinking isn’t that bad, as he doesn’t ever react the same way I do. But when quarantine started it was very hard for me to resist the way I had been before while having it in the house. And when he does get into other substances, which isn’t as often as in the past, it’s hard for me to deal with as that’s what really changes his personality. I’ve learned tho, from here and aa, that I can’t change him. As much as I would love for him to get better. I just hope he realizes my reasons for wanting to stop and maybe one day he’ll get on board with the idea. Like I said, we were both doing well when we met, and I would love to have a real relationship with him again.

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