Breaking the Cycle of Codependency

Codependent relationship

When you’re close to someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, it’s only natural that the relationship has some level of worry, fear, stress and anxiety. What happens if your husband doesn’t come home? What will your daughter do if you stop giving her money?

With so much going on in these types of relationships, it’s hard not to become fixated on this person. Unfortunately, if you continue down this path, you will end up losing your own sense of self as well as some of the relationships you need right now.

Codependency is an important topic in addiction. Let’s talk more about how to recognize and stop this cycle.

Recognizing Codependency

A person who is codependent puts the needs of others in front of themselves. It’s kind of a catch 22, as many of us put our children before ourselves. What’s different about normal parenting vs codependent parenting is that you will do anything to keep the relationship going, even if that means enabling the addiction.

Even though the pattern of this behavior is understandable, it still needs to be stopped. Codependent relationships are not beneficial for anyone. You can still love your family member and support their sobriety without being codependent.

In general, these are the behaviors that go along with codependency.

  • Strong desire to please others

  • Attempts to “fix” others

  • Fear of being rejected

  • Inner need for control

  • Guilt and perfection

  • Not having clear boundaries

  • Low self-esteem

Stopping the Cycle Through Better Self-Care

One of the most difficult things about being in a relationship with an addict is not getting lost in their addiction. It is possible to stay connected to your loved one while also taking care of yourself. Here are a few ways to do that.

When you start feeling consumed by the addict:

  • Pause and take a deep breath. Deeply inhale and exhale a few times. This helps relieve stress from the body and refocuses your attention back on yourself.

  • Ask yourself questions. Think about how you are feeling and what you need in this moment. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Do you need to take a nap or call a friend?

  • Practice mindfulness. Take in the sights and sounds around you. Remind yourself that you are separate from the addict and have separate needs.

To be most effective in stopping the cycle of codependency, seek professional counseling. Both family therapy and individual therapy can be helpful. Above all, you must learn to put yourself first. Self-care gives you the strength and power to be a positive role model for your loved one without being dependent on their choices.