Signs of Codependency and How to Break the Cycle


Drugs and alcohol will take down just about anybody that dances with the devil for too long- but then there are addicts and alcoholics. In pertinence to that thought, society often forgets that love is one of the strongest drugs in existence. The right kind of love will manipulate time, break down barriers, and engulf every aspect of a person in emotionally uplifting ecstasy. This can be the case for anybody- but then there are addicts and alcoholics. Those with alcoholic thinking tend to handle things that make them feel good in a different manner.

Different manner…okay, let’s call it an obsessive one. At the end of the day, nobody wants to be entirely alone in this world. It ties into our primal nature and is just who we are. We want love, friendship, and somebody who just plain old understands. Some people might be more introverted or see themselves as the lone wolf, but even those people crave companionship to some degree.

It’s quite easy to start codependency on a relationship with substances. Addicts and alcoholics use drugs, amongst other things, to fill the hole inside as an attempt to distract from self. Even after an addict makes it to the sobriety side, they will find codependency following them in all sorts of aspects. It’s difficult to mute the obsession entirely.

Healthy Independence

In a totally twisted way, substances are often that understanding companion that we convince ourselves we were searching for in the first place- but that never sustains for long. This chemical dependent relationship eventually threatens the blood in our veins and we find ourselves looking into the realms of recovery. Unfortunately for many, once one x-factor walks out the door, another then bursts thru in a “Kramer from Seinfeld” type style.  As we end a codependency based relationship with narcotics, our natural alcoholic thinking is to find something or somebody else to fill that void.

It’s amazing how different addicts and alcoholics are once they get clean, but perfection is still far off in the distance. However, the results are night and day with the complete switcheroo as we move recovery onto the front burner of our ever cooking mind. The 12 steps and the anonymous programs attached are the saving grace to millions. However, a few things like a relationship wrapped in codependency can deter even the strongest of recoveries. It’s on us to separate wants from needs during this sober prioritization.

unhappy couple

Falling to the Wayside

Let’s take a good look at reality: any good relationship takes time to blossom. Everybody has a different story to tell and Father Time takes the cake on this. Love is often confused with infatuation and the results can be rather sloppy- especially with addicts and alcoholics involved. Those who have just gotten sober are often still discovering themselves and an early relationship can divert from where the focus should really be. Before long, codependency easily becomes the bi-product of this equation as things regress for one, if not both of the parties involved.

When codependency becomes prevalent, it’s important for that person to recognize their behaviors and make sure they’re still taking care of themselves. Often times this codependent behavior can cause problems in recovery such as:

  • Relapse
  • Confused Emotions
  • Combinational Chaos
  • Preoccupied Priorities
  • Clouded and Irrational Thinking

Once we have actually gotten clean we are through the worst of it, but mistake not- codependency will show different angles to alcoholic thinking that some of us never knew to exist.

Dependent Thinking

If you think about it, just because the substances are taken away doesn’t mean that the problems are all patched up. Yes, the booze and powders were the cause of the powerlessness and unmanageability, but it’s our alcoholic thinking that causes us to obsess. Therefore the solution comes from within also. It is not until we can learn all the inner workings of ourselves that we should try to educate ourselves of another being in such an intimate capacity. Relationships are the key to the fellowship and recovery, but they need to be healthy ones at that.

There is a slew of factors that relationships in sobriety must be contingent upon. Imagination easily takes over for many and we can find our thoughts revolving entirely around one particular individual- just like the drugs. It is when this happens that we must search for CODA meetings or seek for independence and alone time.

The Band-Aid

It’s truly amazing how much can change in a matter of minutes, hours, or even days. Time is the ruler of all and utilizing that time with introspection can be the difference between ignorance and wisdom. Giving any addict or alcoholic time to figure themselves out gives them time to figure out the things they desire in life. Upon getting sober, we often latch onto the first thing that provides comfort. Time with ourselves allows us to figure out boundaries with ourselves as we push codependency to the curb.

Even though codependency is based on a relationship with another, sometimes it’s wisest to split all that free time into other healthy relationships. Your life does not have to revolve around somebody else. Recovery is about learning to manage our time and emotions with the new way of life provided, so it takes a lot of trial and error while figuring these things out. We belong right in between extreme independence and codependency. Mistakes are okay, it’s just all about balance.

Avoiding a Relationship With Self?

Relying on somebody or something too much? Recovering from chemical dependency will help us to be able to truly feel again. It takes getting sober before our sense come back to us and we become fine with just that. If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and are ready for help, please call 1-888-481-1993 or visit We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path that we can all be proud of.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.