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Addiction, also referred to as substance use disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder that is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli without regard for consequence. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug craving above all else. This can lead to damaged relationships, financial strain, legal complication and a slew of adverse health consequences. It can be incredibly difficult to witness a loved one on a path of self-destruction. Often in efforts to help struggling loved ones, individuals can inadvertently develop enabling behaviors, especially in codependent relationships. Therefore, although they are not directly related, addiction and codependency often go hand in hand. 

Addiction, Codependency and Enabling

It is impossible to go uninfluenced or unscathed by a loved one that struggles with addiction. Addiction is a disease that essentially overpowers an individual’s ability to behave authentically. Codependency, as defined by Psych Central is “characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs.” Codependent behaviors are learned, and can become more severe in time, if left untreated. According to Psychology Today “those who habitually enable dysfunctional behavior are often referred to as co-dependent.” 

Many individuals that struggle with addiction are highly emotionally intelligent and are able to persuade loved one’s to accommodate his or her needs. Further, individuals that are addicted to drugs and/ or alcohol exhibit undesirable behaviors that loved ones feel the need to defend. Enabling behaviors allow an individual to continue to engage in substance abusing behaviors and through this type of “support” the addicted individual is void of responsibility. For example, covering for a loved one that arrives late to a commitment (or does not show at all) by lying or excusing this behavior is essentially enabling the individual to continue to prioritize drinking or doing drugs and helping him or her avoid experiencing the natural consequences of his or her actions. This can perpetuate destructive substance abusing behaviors and prolong an individual’s untreated addiction. There are many ways to effectively help an individual struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction. However, an individual that has codependent tendencies should be mindful in how he or she offers support to a loved one struggling with addiction, as enabling and codependency are firmly intertwined. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.