Codependent – helping the addict stay sick.

An introduction to codependent behavior.

While this article will primarily focus on the codependent behavior between an addict and their family, it will touch on other aspects of codependent behavior as well. this behavior isn’t just restricted to addicts, nor is it even restricted to the relationship between addicts and those they’re close to.

codependent behaviorMany people are affected by codependent behavior, sometimes while being unable to do anything about it. Examples and insights will be provided. If you feel your life is being severely affected either by being in a codependent relationship of any nature or by being in an addict’s life, read on.

codependent behavior and addiction.

Codependent relationships are often the reason addicts and alcoholics find it easier to stay in their addictions. Without realising it, the family (and friends) of addicts could be enabling them through codependent behavior.

For the purposes of this piece, we’ll refer to addicts as  those suffering from addiction of all types, from substances including alcohol to patterns of behaviour such as gambling.

Essentially, addicts tend to be manipulative. As people vary, this ability to manipulate will vary from individual to individual.

It is all part of the nature of codependent behavior. Another point to consider is how manipulative people may not be consciously aware that they’re being manipulative. In other words, they’re acting on fulfilling their needs on an instinctive level.

And they feel by expressing themselves as they do, they’re being true to themselves. This is why therapy is often needed; it enables addicts to realise the manipulative nature of their actions.

How do I know if I’m in a codependent relationship?

codependent behaviorHowever, if you are in a codependent relationship with an addict, you probably have realised it – or at least gotten a strong suspicion of it – from reading the above.

What happens in a codependent relationship is that there is an enabling of the addict to either (a) continue with their addiction; or (b) prevent them from fully recovering.

The first point is simple and easy to recognise: if you are being asked for money all the time, and you see no outcome as a result of that money being given (nothing to show for it), then you are probably enabling an addiction.

An example of this is if you are asked to contribute to an online course involving web development, but you see no website, no advancement of skill development, and so on.

With (b), the addict may technically be trying to recover, but because of the nature of your relationship, they struggle to. In addiction recovery centre circles, this is known as a block to recovery.

For instance, you may not be taking a hard enough stance on them in  their maintaining relationships with old friends, who were bad for them.

Such as those who are currently abusing substances. There could be an attitude towards indifference to bettering one’s life among the peer group.

This, at the very least, keeps the addict in the kind of sick thinking that helped get them addicted in the first place.


The only way to effectively deal with it is to seek counsel from a support group or an addiction recovery centre. This will give you the strength and courage to take the hard stance necessary. Breaking free of a codependent relationship is difficult, especially when you really love the person so afflicted.

Codependent behavior is also fulfilling the needs of others in place of yourself.

This is another form of this behavior that either involves direct addiction or doesn’t. What it does entail, though, is placing others’ needs ahead of yourself.

There could be a variety of reasons from this:

From the financial (you depend on someone for monetary support, so find yourself in a submissive position, sometimes resulting in you swallowing your own self-humiliation) to wanting to feel valued as a way to counter-balance self-esteem issues.

Or you view yourself as a rescuer.

Take a romantic relationship. Where you find yourself trying to make a “breakthrough” with your partner, who seems like they can’t get their emotional needs met. So you give them all your love and support. By doing so, you take on a lot, giving much of yourself in the process.

This can lead to decreased sense of self-worth or only feeling valued if the other party acknowledges it on some level.

Devastatingly, it often never lasts. And if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, or worse, there will be a downward spiral.

Normally the biggest warning signs come from your own family and friends, and their concerns. Always listen to those who care about you whom you have long-standing relationships with, such as old friends.

They have your best interests at heart.

Part of being ensnared in a codependent relationship is your “partner” will try separate you from your support base.

Till that support no longer around when you need it most.

It is sometimes unwanted, but unavoidable.

codependent behaviorSometimes, people find themselves in positions of employment with either an addict or someone with a different disorder. Whether or not this person has an official position of power, they have power none the less. Power that can make your life a lot more difficult.

What ends up happening is your entire mood and state of mind starts being interfered with by this individual. Whether they’re an office bully or not (though they tend to be psychological bullies perfectly willing to throw others ‘under the bus’) doesn’t matter.

What does matter is, you become so kow-towing, obedient, and avoidant of conflict even when you are in the right, that it impacts your personal sense of stability.

Often people like this are extremely difficult to manage, and it can cause more harm to your psyche in the long run to remain around them. Especially if you are very sensitive or suffer from some form of disorder or dysfunction yourself.

The problem is, you need the job and the paycheque.

It is just that, well, quite significantly, your mental health is suffering. And may result in unhealthy decisions such as drinking a couple of glasses of red wine after work. Or risky behaviour. Perhaps even suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes the best thing to do is call it a day, and find another place of employment.

This behavior has to be dealt with.

Whatever codependent behavior-related issue you’re confronting at the moment, you probably need to speak to someone about it. That way, you’re better able to cope with what can be very destructive experience.

See the roses bloom once again, but without the thorns, and consult us if you need guidance around codependent behavior. We’re always glad to offer you our insights into your specific issues. Especially as we have over 20 years in dealing with this sort of intricate relationship dysfunction.

For more information on dealing with codependency or addiction or any other form of abuse and getting yourself into rehab to start a new life, call Houghton House now:

office hours:  011 787 9142

24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532

Family Support Group for patients of Houghton House occurs every Saturday at 12.30 

Click on the green envelope below and fill in our contact form, and one of our professional staff members will get back to you via email or phone, respecting your anonymity at all times.

contact Rehab in South Africa


Open chat
How Can We Help You?
Hello! How can we help you ?