Updated 18 July 2013

Are you a codependent drug addict?

Are you lying awake at night worrying about someone else's drug problem? Are you lying and covering up for this person? You might be a codependent.


Are you lying awake at night worrying about your partner or child's drug problem?  Do you make excuses for this person, do you cover up for this person or do you lie to others - like employers - to not let this person look bad?

Is your relationship characterised by constant fights, recriminations, apportioning of blame, verbal abuse and occasional violence?  Are your attempts at control failing and you hate yourself for it?  Are you angry, because you have tried everything and nothing works? Welcome to the world of the codependent.

Other symptoms of drug codependency

  • You constantly ask yourself what you did to contribute to this situation
  • You cover up your real feelings by pretending you don't care, or don't notice someone else's drug habit
  • You spend a large portion of your time thinking about this person and their habit and what you can do about it
  • You have become very suspicious where this person is concerned - you watch what they do, where they go and check to see that nothing is missing after they have been
  • You constantly feel anxious, waiting for the next outburst or drama.
  • You find yourself bargaining with this person or threatening them
  • Your entire emotional energy is focused on this person, their habit and its consequences rather than on yourself and your life
  • You are constantly trying to make things better, but nothing works
  • You are being lied to and deceived on a constant basis, but you find yourself wanting to believe what is being said to you

Why do people become codependent?

People become codependent for a variety of reasons.  They feel empty within themselves, often have low self-esteem, have difficulty expressing their own feelings and derive a sense of worth from being able to advise and help others.  Their sense of self-worth derives from being able to help and control others - and the more out-of-control the others' lives are, the greater the challenge to fix things for someone else.  When this fails, as it inevitably does, as we cannot change other people, the feelings of worthlessness, anger and isolation become almost overwhelming.

So must I stop loving my child or partner who has a drug habit?

The answer is simple - no.  But love does not mean control, says Robin Norwood in her book Women who love too much. She adds that when we take responsibility for someone else's life, they don't have to. We can care about someone, without caring for them. Sometimes not helping, not interfering and letting someone feel the consequences of their actions, are the most helpful things we could do. Healing ourselves should become a priority and we should not let someone else's behaviour become the determining factor for our happiness.

Support groups

  • Nar-anon  -   Helpline -  0881296791(For family and friends affected by someone's drug problem
  • Nar-ateen  -   Helpline - 0881296791(For teenagers with drug addicted parents)
  • Tough Love -  (021) 685 5424   (support group for parents of drug addicts)
  • Al-Anon      -  (021) 4180021
  • Codependents anonymous (021) 7047144 or (021) 7834230 or (021) 855 1696


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