Often when we think about the concept of co-dependency, we think about the relationship between an addict and a fellow addict; the dependency on the substance of choice that both share fuels one’s control over the other, and while one submits to the other both addicts submit to their drug of choice.
An addiction treatment program will flesh out the motives behind co-dependent relationships, working to free the dual needs of those in such a negative relationship.
But what about a co-dependent relationship between an addict and someone who is not suffering from addiction?
Someone who is not an addict but who grew up in a relationship with an addict may search for the same relationship dynamic as he or she gets older. This time around though, he or she hopes to have more control over the situation; at first, this might manifest itself in a positive way, as the non-addict encourages the suffering addict to seek out treatment for addiction and to research addiction treatment programs.
But a co-dependent relationship between a non-addict and an addict depends on one person remaining addicted to either alcohol or substances. In this relationship the non-addict channels his or her own insecurities and emotional turmoil through the addict, using the addict’s situation to assuage any doubts the non-addict may have about his or her own life. It’s similar to comparisons we make to convince ourselves that our situation isn’t as bad as it may seem: “Well, at least I’m not that guy…”
In essence, a co-dependent relationship between someone who does not abuse drugs or alcohol and someone who does is a non-addict being addicted to the self-destructive behaviour of an addict. In this way, the psychology of addiction pervades those outside of the usual understanding of addiction, demonstrating the idea that treatment for addiction treats much more than just the dependence on alcohol and substances; it can heal or successfully sever unhealthy relationships.