Codependency: Enabling Addiction

by Bill Urell on

A relationship where codependency occurs is enabling addiction. A person who is codependent may have a lot of characteristics and personality traits which tend to enable the addict  to maintain their addiction. Codependency is often defined as taking care of another person in a way that is not healthy to either that person or themselves, or both.

This is caring for the person in such a way that they consider themselves to be inferior or submissive to the person. A codependent person derives their self-esteem from caring for another, not themselves. They are overly involved and immersed in the person’s life. There can be issues of feeling guilty if they do not go along with the other person, and even putting themselves in an abusive or controlling situation. Their guilt, in turn, can lead to acts that “enable” the addict to maintain and carry in his addiction.

Enabling behaviors are acts by those surrounding the substance abuser which contribute towards the maintenance of the addictive behavior. This may be through providing money, making excuses for them, bailing him out of jail, drinking and drugging with them to bond or deepen the relationship, helping them to buy more drugs or alcohol or which help them to avoid the negative consequences of their behavior.

Both an addicted substance abuser and a person enabling his continued use are self-destructive and harbor a significant amount of denial about how the addiction and self-destructive behavior are affecting their health. The codependent person often has a greater incidence of stress-related illnesses which typically accompany the codependent personality traits. This may include heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, and, due to the extreme anxiety, depression, tension, and other destructive habits.

The person may be addicted to non-chemical substances such as food, cigarettes, etc., family, financial, and work situations.  These patterns of the codependent person will usually help both the codependent person and the addict to continue to spiral into self-destruction. Codependency and addiction go hand in hand.