February 13, 2020

Claire Orr, a licensed professional counselor at Oxford Treatment Center, contributed a piece to Psych Central offering ways to avoid co-dependency in relationships involving addiction. Co-dependency in romantic relationships and parent-child relationships can develop out of the want to get a loved one better or protect them from harm, and care or assistance can devolve into codependency or enabling.

The key to breaking that cycle and maintain healthy support, Orr says, is to acknowledge the behavior and implement strategies that help both parties break the chains of addiction and codependency.

Codependency most often involves one person exclusively catering to the needs of the person with addiction, often at the expense of their own well-being. Guilt, coercion or manipulation will lead the enabler to give in to their loved one’s demands, which makes for an unhealthy cycle. An example of this would be a mother paying the phone bill of her daughter or a codependent partner lying for their significant other to hide their alcohol abuse.

Those who are codependent truly believe that they are acting in their loved one’s best interest, and while enduring the experience, it is hard not to feel that way. If a child returns home under the influence, even though that is not allowed, it may be difficult to turn them away into the cold night.

Orr offers strategies to break the codependency cycle like setting boundaries and adjusting support. Instead of giving that person your car, drive them to a location instead. These changes, albeit difficult to stick to, can benefit all involved.

To read the rest of the piece, visit Psych Central.