We often associate codependence with romantic relationships full of neediness, dependence, attachment, compulsiveness and obsession. We don’t always see that our tendencies towards codependence mirror and fuel our addictions to drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances and behaviors. Our relationship patterns and our addictive patterns are often reflections of each other. They work in tandem as manifestations of our inner fears and self-destructiveness. When we are codependent with other people, we often don’t have the internal resources we need to be independent: self-reliance, inner strength, resilience and willpower. We’re easily swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others. We give more energy to fulfilling other people’s needs than we do our own. We depend on other people for our happiness rather than finding it within ourselves. Our relationships themselves function as an addiction, and many of us consider ourselves to be love and sex addicts. Our dating habits, romantic relationships and sex become the focal point of our addictive tendencies, often to the point of obsession. We think we need someone else in order to be whole and complete. We feel inadequate, empty and unfulfilled when we’re alone or single. We measure our worth by our ability to maintain a relationship. We are codependent in our relationships, clinging to other people and feeling consumed with an excessive need for them and an unhealthy attachment to them.
Our codependence and our addictions function in very similar ways. We come to rely on people just as we do drugs and alcohol. Our relationships can become one of our drugs of choice, our mode of escaping our inner pain and distracting ourselves from our fears. For many of us, we’re afraid of sitting with ourselves and dissecting all of the elements of our addictions and mental health issues. We’re resistant to the idea of examining all of the reasons why we’re depressed, why we feel so unhappy, so defeated, and so lost. We don’t want to think about all of the contributing factors to our addictive behaviors. To look at ourselves honestly and openly would mean being forced to give up the relationships, substances and behaviors we’ve grown dependent upon. Self-examination would mean we have to work towards independence, and we’re afraid to do this difficult work. We fear withdrawal in our relationships as much as we do with our other addictions – the feelings of loneliness, emptiness and sadness that come with breakups. Those of us who are codependent approach this withdrawal the same way we do with our addictions – with resistance and fear, doing everything we can to avoid having to feel the pain and really face ourselves. We’re afraid of having to come to terms with our true selves. Healing from addiction means healing all of our self-defeating patterns, codependence being among the most destructive.
Pinnacle Recovery specializes in inpatient rehabilitation, trauma recovery, AA programs and AA alternatives, experiential therapy, dual diagnosis, family therapy, co-occurring and dual diagnosis addictions. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.