How-To Spot Codependency in Recovery (plus a codependent test!)

CodependencyCodependency is a word that defines addictive behavior. In recovery, an addict may be able to become less reliant on drugs and alcohol to cope with life’s challenges. However, they could reach for someone close to them when life gets difficult. If you are constantly working hard to keep your own life in order, taking on a codependent relationship with an addict may be more than you can handle. And if you feel that way – you’re not alone!

Many people have experienced a codependent person. A codependent personality type is such that the person will enable others with their behavior and have trouble setting clear boundaries. For a person with codependency, fear of losing relationships, especially important ones like those within the family system can cause large amounts of stress. The fear can become so great that it overpowers the foundation of the family structure, which may need reinforcements to stabilize the family system again.  

How Can I Know if I’m in a Codependent Relationship?

Here is a simple test to know if you are in a codependent relationship:

  • Did you ever lose time from work due to your relationship with an addicted person?
  • Have your relationships ever made your life unhappy?
  • Have your relationships ever affected your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after manipulating a situation?
  • Did you ever control situations to get money to pay debts or household bills or to otherwise solve financial difficulties that belong to someone else?
  • Has your involvement in a relationship caused a decrease in your personal ambition or efficiency?
  • After a fight or disagreement, have you ever felt you must “get even?”
  • After winning an argument, have you ever had a strong urge to restate your point?
  • Did you often stay in a relationship until your last hope was gone?
  • Did you ever borrow money to finance another person’s addiction or associated crisis?
  • Have you ever sold anything to finance another person’s addiction or associated crisis?
  • Were you ever reluctant to purchase necessary items because it might cause a disagreement?
  • Did your relationships ever make you care less for your welfare or that of your family?
  • Did you ever stay in a degrading or dangerous situation longer than you planned?
  • Have you ever dragged old hurts into discussions about current items?
  • Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance someone’s addiction?
  • Did your relationships cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  • Did arguments, disappointments or frustrations ever create within you an urge to change someone else?
  • Did you ever have an idea that if loved ones would only see things your way, life would be much better?
  • Have you ever considered self-destructive acts (such as suicide or self-harm) as a result of your reactions or relationships?

Write the answers down to these questions in a notebook. Long answers are ok! And then count up your Yes, and No responses. Answering “Yes” to five or more of these 20 Questions for Codependents indicates that you are in a codependent relationship.

How Healing Happens

The how and why of the healing process from a codependent relationship may include facing the consequences of using drugs or alcohol head on. This could harm the relationships within families, workplaces, or any other place an addict has caused harm with their behavior.

Recovering from codependent relationships requires that the addict can separate your feelings from their behavior. So, in order for that detachment to take place, you need to allow the addict to take all of the responsibility for their actions – and that means everything that goes along with it. If that includes property damage, broken hearts, missed birthdays, lost spouses, or anything else … so be it. The addict must face the harm they caused willingly if they ever intend to restore healthy boundaries in any relationship.

Here are just a few tips to help speed the healing process:

  1. Get Help. Find support wherever you can, with sober people. External support may come in the form of workout buddies, walking friends, or even people you find at the market. But regardless, studies can confirm that during recovery it helps to have a close friend or peer going through the same type of situation.
  2. Let Go of Guilt. If you feel like there is something you could have done differently to change the way things are, just let it go. Guilt is a natural reaction to suffering through an addiction of someone you care about, but you must realize that there is nothing you could have done to change it. When you realize you do not have power over any other person, you will be free of the anguish of guilt.
  3. Focus on the Positive. Battling an addiction is difficult. And nobody will ever say otherwise, so it is best to remember the positive things about an addict. Recovery happens just one day at a time, and oftentimes it’s hard for people close to the addict to remember that the negativity of the addiction won’t just disappear. It takes time to heal from the past but it gets easier! In the meantime, just remember all of the good things about the person in recovery and keep going forward.

Dr. Rod Amiri, from Malibu Hills Treatment Center, a luxury rehab facility located in Malibu, California, says “Only by separating ourselves from the addict are we able to stay mindful of who we are as an individual. The preflight instructions before every plane ride tell the adult to take care of themselves before helping others when it comes to administering oxygen or assistance. The same is true for loving someone who struggles with addiction — you must be healthy to help them get healthy.”

So, what are the most important things to consider for someone healing from a codependent relationship? Dr. Amiri suggests focusing on self-awareness. He says, “Remember who you are. There are times we get so tangled in our loved one’s affairs that we lose track of who and what we are and intend to be in this life. Set and maintain healthy boundaries to prevent this from happening. Spend one-on-one time with your children and work on developing your own personal goals and skills.”

Where Can I Get More Information on Codependency?

Addiction, Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD) are serious health conditions that need to be addressed properly. Contact CoDa, or Al-Anon for more information on addiction, and loving someone in recovery. You don’t have to take on recovery from addiction alone. There are people just like you who come together in support of one another and take it one day at a time. Find support in your area, today!