You may have heard the phrase “codependent alcoholic relationship” or “alcoholic codependent behaviors.” These phrases refer to the unhealthy or toxic relationship or actions that occur between an alcoholic and another person. 

Through Evolve Indy, our counselors and therapists work to help people figure out a balance in their lives, including in relationships that may be codependent. Our addiction therapy programs offer the opportunity for families to meet and discuss healthy opportunities for change. 

What is Codependency?

Codependency is defined as a dysfunctional relationship pattern in which an individual is psychologically dependent on a person who has a pathological addiction. This often has to do with investment in a relationship that individuals cannot seem to break away from. In a codependent relationship, individuals may experience power imbalances that negatively impact both people. This imbalance can cause individuals to feel trapped, exhausted, helpless, or unable to function alone. This type of toxic relationship often occurs when one individual is suffering from addiction because of the need for support.

According to James Madison University, “codependent relationships often involve intimacy problems, dependency, control, denial, problematic communication, unhealthy expectations, and issues with healthy boundaries.”

A codependent relationship may cause individuals to:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for others
  • Fear of being abandoned
  • Not trusting yourself without input or approval from others
  • Feeling guilty and selfish when you do something for yourself
  • Low self-esteem
  • Only feel good about yourself if you’re sacrificing something
  • Feeling resentful
  • Developing unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Feeling exhausted and burnt out, physically and emotionally
  • Neglecting other relationships
  • Avoiding personal growth or goals

How Does Codependency Affect Alcoholism?

An alcoholic may knowingly or unknowingly take advantage of a codependent relationship. A codependent alcoholic will rely on another person to support them. This might be a parent and child, husband and wife, or a working relationship that is being exploited. The individual struggling with the alcohol use disorder will rely on the other for support when it comes to family, work, and other possible social situations that require the alcoholic to complete a necessary task.

What are the Signs of a Codependent Alcoholic?

A codependent alcoholic may act in a way that impacts others’ abilities to support and interact with them. Alcoholic codependent behavior is impacted by their need to drink and the support necessary from others. 

A codependent alcoholic may ask for money. An alcoholic may struggle to maintain permanent work or lose a job because of their alcohol use. This can lead them to ask for money that is used to establish stability and purchase more alcohol.

Another alcoholic codependency symptom is irresponsibility. An alcoholic may forget responsibilities like work or picking up the children from school. It can also lead to increased risk-taking behavior because a codependent alcoholic knows that the other person will pick up the slack. 

Lastly, a person with codependent alcoholism may have poor communication skills, leading to lying and dishonesty and difficulty with rigidity and inflexibility. These challenges with communication and interaction pose an opportunity for loss of control. This can be especially difficult for an individual who feels they need to maintain control in a situation, like a codependent alcoholic. 

How to Treat Codependency and Addiction

A codependent alcoholic needs addiction treatment and proper therapeutic support to help develop the self-reliance and problem-solving skills necessary for long-term sobriety. 

At Evolve Indy, our addiction treatment programs can help individuals who have an alcohol use disorder and are struggling with codependency through comprehensive and individualized treatment programs. Thorough addiction treatment combined with family therapy can help those struggling with codependency find stability in their relationship.
We believe in providing a trusted recovery community for individuals to take the first steps of their journey. Contact us today to see how we can help you.


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