Rebuilding Trust and Boundaries after Codependency in Addiction

Codependency and addiction form an unhealthy, vicious relationship that traps the parties involved. Codependency, on its part, rids the codependent of their independence because all they do is fix the other partner. Substance addiction, which affects nearly 22% of the American population, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, impairs the addict’s judgment, making them unable to see the consequences of substance abuse and are less likely to acknowledge they have a problem. 

A codependent relationship involving addiction can strain the relationship and destroy trust. Loved ones, who may be caretakers, may be harmed in one way or the other by the addict’s manipulative behaviors and deceptions. The addict may promise to quit, but the caretaker is almost always disappointed. It is essential to rebuild trust to navigate recovery. Both parties must identify the root of their codependency and set healthy boundaries. 

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What is Codependency in Addiction?

Codependency in addiction is a dysfunctional relationship involving an addicted person and the codependent, the caretaker. In a typical codependent relationship, one party relies heavily on the other for care and love. The caretaker tries to please the other partner in whatever way, often at their expense. This unhealthy relationship takes a toll on the caretaker, forcing them to give up their life to satisfy their partners.

Examples of codependent behaviors in addiction include:

  • Defending the addicted partner’s behavior, even if wrong.
  • Feeling responsible for their addicted partner’s well-being
  • Enabling their partner’s addiction to make them happy
  • Sacrificing their own needs and happiness to take care of their codependent partner
  • Becoming overly controlling and always getting involved in the lives of their codependent partner
  • Feeling guilty about their partner’s behavior if they didn’t satisfy their needs

The codependent partner may not necessarily be a spouse. They could be a sibling or a friend who share similar addiction problems or benefit from each other. In the case of the caretaker, they derive joy and happiness from caring for their addicted partner. They feel a sense of purpose for making their partner happy. They have the “people-pleasing” attitude, where other’s opinions and validations are more valuable, and they use them to gauge their self-worth.

How Trust is Lost in a Codependent Relationship Involving Addiction

Addiction can lead to lies and betrayal, as the individual’s focus is to obtain and use, often at the expense of the codependent. They indulge in manipulative behaviors to get what they want, even sacrificing the relationship. When the codependent realizes these falsehoods and deceptions, they feel a sense of betrayal, making it difficult for them to trust the words of their partners.

How to Rebuild Trust and Boundaries in a Codependent Addiction Relationship

Codependency is a two-way thing. The addict isn’t to be blamed for everything, as they are not always in the right frame of mind before making any decision. Meanwhile, the caretaker might not be honest with the partner on why they assumed the codependent role. All these issues must be ironed out going forward to ensure a smooth recovery.

As you navigate recovery, rebuilding trust and making amends with those offended by your behavior is necessary to complete the recovery process. Below are steps to rebuilding trust and boundaries after codependency in addiction:

  1. Reflect: The codependent and the addict should pinpoint their roles in the dynamic relationship and ascertain if they harmed themselves emotionally or otherwise.
  2. Engage in Communication: As a person in recovery, have honest communication with your codependent. Express your feelings, fears, and expectations without judging.
  3. Join Support Groups: While undergoing therapy, support groups are crucial during recovery. They help you navigate recovery and reconcile your past. Additionally, they provide resources and insights for recovery. You and your codependent should endeavor to join support groups to rebuild trust and smoothen out any issue.
  4. Prioritize Self-Care: Codependents must focus on themselves more and set healthy boundaries that protect their well-being. They must learn to say “no” to enable behaviors and prioritize their needs. Self-care isn’t selfishness.
  5. Be Patient: Rebuilding trust is a long process. Take it one step at a time and avoid rushing. Small milestones build confidence.
  6. Forgive: Both parties should forgive themselves for past errors. Remember, it was a difficult period. Forgiveness can be fundamental to recovery and restoring trust in a relationship.

Recovering from Codependency Addiction

Recovery from a codependent relationship involving addiction is challenging, but it can lead to healthier relationships that encompass trust and boundaries. However, the root of codependency must be understood and addressed to ensure complete recovery. If you or someone you know is in a codependent relationship involving addiction, seek professional help. At Grace Recovery, we aim to support you in overcoming codependency.

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