Start My Wellness Blog

Explore success stories and information related to mental health, holistic wellness and self-improvement.

Have a question about a post? Need to schedule an appointment?

Call 248-514-4955

Reclaiming Control: Overcome Codependency and Addiction

May 28, 2024 | Codependency, Personal Growth

Dependencies on people, substances, and activities such as gambling can arise as a means to cope with stress but inherently harm the individual. Dependency issues can emerge in individuals from families with no apparent problems or difficulties. For others, dependency problems emerge from a difficult or traumatic upbringing. In either situation, the individual develops unhealthy coping strategies which include over dependence on people, substances or activities such as gambling.

Dependencies and substance abuse deeply mirror patterns seen in codependent relationships. In codependency, two people are “addicted” to loving one another at the expense of each partner’s safety and needs. Individuals often assume roles that either exacerbate or mask underlying issues, creating an environment where each individual depends on another for support without addressing the root causes of their problems. The mutual dependence perpetuates unhealthy behaviors and limits genuine autonomy within the relationship.

Understanding Codependency Beyond Relationships

Codependent relationships involve a dynamic where one person, the enabler, provides support that perpetuates the caretaker’s unhealthy behavior. This relationship often masks underlying issues, with the enabler feeling needed and the caretaker relying on the enabler for emotional, physical, or financial support. This “dance” between enabler and caretaker creates a cycle where both parties avoid addressing their actual emotional needs and problems.

Dependence is

naturally part of our lives
. Healthy dependence, such as relying on loved ones for support, is essential for emotional well-being. In contrast, unhealthy dependence occurs when reliance on something or someone prevents an individual from being self-reliant and masks underlying emotional issues in a way that leaves those issues unresolved.

These dependencies on relationships, substances, or harmful activities serve as coping mechanisms to manage stress and emotional pain. While they may provide temporary relief, they fail to address the root causes of these issues. This results in a cycle of repeated behavior where one continually seeks out their dependency for support, never truly resolving underlying problems.

Thus, the first step to understanding dependency, whether in relationships or addiction, is to understand the underlying issues that must be coped with and replace unhealthy coping strategies with effective ones.

The Overlap Between Codependency in Families and Substance Abuse

Codependent relationships and substance abuse are deeply intertwined, often reinforcing one another in individuals who are dependent on both. Each stems from an inability to manage stress and trauma effectively. Often,

these patterns begin in childhood
, when individuals learn to rely on unhealthy coping strategies.

For various reasons, children often learn to seek out external sources for validation and comfort. This seeking can manifest as dependence on relationships, where they seek approval and support from others to fill either a developmentally appropriate need or an emotional void. In some vulnerable children, they might turn to substances like alcohol or drugs as a means to escape from unresolved feelings. Current theories in addiction science claim that there are complex interactions between a genetic predisposition, life experience, and personal traits which eventually leads to substance abuse. Once the pattern is established, there are strong biological and physiological mechanisms leading to the addiction pattern.

When substance abuse occurs within a codependent relationship, it often mirrors dynamics that the individual experienced in early life. An individual will feel the need to care for their partner, enabling addictive behavior.

While codependency does not necessarily occur alongside addiction, it can present in families dealing with substance abuse, especially alcohol. Codependency doesn’t just occur in romantic relationships; it can occur between children who are forced to take care of their parents and close friends or families who feel compelled to enable a loved one’s behavior. Playing this role at an early age sets the stage for recurring relationship patterns later in life.

Therapies for Managing Addiction and Codependency

Breaking the cycle of addiction is challenging. It requires individuals to confront and address the root causes of why they turned to substances or behaviors as coping mechanisms in the first place and what current patterns of behavior sustain the abuse. If the root causes include unresolved trauma, stress, or emotional pain, alternate coping strategies will need to be learned and practiced.

Together with specific substance abuse treatment models, psychotherapy offers a highly effective environment for treating addiction because it helps address the

underlying psychological and emotional issues

driving unhealthy dependency. By working with a therapist or counselor, individuals can explore the root causes of their addiction and develop better coping mechanisms. Therapy offers a safe and empathetic environment where individuals can gain insights into their behaviors and learn strategies to manage their triggers and cravings.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the best therapies for handling addiction and codependency is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to addiction. It equips individuals with practical skills to manage stress and prevent relapse by promoting healthier thinking and behavior patterns. Research has shown that

CBT is highly effective in helping individuals manage addiction

both as a monotherapy and in combination with other therapies, depending on the individual.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves family members in the therapeutic process, helping them understand their familial roles and how they can support their loved one’s recovery. It works to

improve communication, set healthy boundaries, and rebuild trust. This therapy can also offer insights into possible codependent dynamics within a family that need to be addressed for complete healing.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a community of individuals who share similar experiences and challenges. These groups offer mutual support and accountability, vital for maintaining sobriety in those affected. The shared experiences and encouragement from peers provide a sense of belonging and understanding that provides the necessary support individuals need to become self-reliant while still providing essential support for others. Al-Anon family groups and Alateen groups can assist family members impacted by a loved one’s alcohol addiction.

Take the First Step Towards Healing With Start My Wellness

Dependencies that serve as coping mechanisms mask but do not relieve underlying issues, whether they be relationships, substances, or harmful activities. Addiction in any form prevents individuals from becoming self-reliant and emotionally secure. Further, these dependencies can significantly lower quality of life, cause harm, and strain relationships.

At Start My Wellness, we are dedicated to helping individuals overcome the challenges of codependency and addiction. Our team of experienced professionals offers tailored strategies to address these issues’ psychological and emotional aspects. We provide a supportive environment where individuals can explore the underlying causes of their dependencies and develop effective strategies for long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or codependency, contact us at (248)-514-4955 and

meet our therapists

to take the first step towards better mental health.


  1. Start My Wellness: What Does It Mean to Be Codependent or Independent?
  2. Start My Wellness: Unraveling Codependency
  3. Start My Wellness: How to Break the Cycle of Codependency
  4. Psychiatric Clinics of North America: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders
  5. Journal of Family Process: Effects of family therapy for substance abuse: A systematic review of recent research
Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: Personal Development
woman sending a message on her phone

Request an Appointment

To get started with Start My Wellness, request an appointment with the provided form or call 248-514-4955. During the scheduling process, we will ask questions to match you with the therapist who will best meet your needs including service type, emotional symptoms and availability.

(248) 514-4955