Codependency & Addiction: Are Men or Women More at Risk?

Codependency and AddictionCodependency and addiction often go hand-in-hand.  Consequently, this brings up the question as to whether men or women are more at risk of becoming codependent.  The stigma surrounding codependent relationships tends to lean towards women being more at risk.  However, studies show that many men can be considered codependent as well.

The Relationship Between Codependency and Addiction

The term “codependency” originated in the early 1980s and was used to describe a needy, weak, clinging person in a relationship.  The term was also used in reference to spouses of alcoholics.  However, today, therapists hesitate to use the term in clinical settings because the characteristics of codependents are more prevalent in society than previously thought.

Codependency and addiction are closely related for many reasons.  In most cases of addiction or alcoholism, the addicted person relies on their spouse or partner to take care of daily responsibilities such as paying bills, cooking, cleaning, etc.  In this way, the addict has nothing to worry about.  He or she is free to get high, sleep it off, and deal with a hangover without having to do anything or worry about anything.  Without realizing it, the spouse of an addict is enabling the addiction by making it easy for the person to continue their behavior.

Most codependents are “people pleasers” meaning they care more about their partner’s needs and will sacrifice their own needs to take care of the person they love.  To a small extent, this is an admirable trait.  However, this type of sacrificial behavior can become a person’s downfall.  For instance, codependency becomes problematic when a person relinquishes all power and control to the spouse or partner who is pathologically narcissistic or an addict.  As a result, the relationship becomes woefully one-sided.

Warning Signs of a Codependent Relationship

Codependent relationships are one-sided and dysfunctional.  One person relies on the other for all their emotional needs in addition to letting that person take care of all the daily chores and responsibilities.  To determine whether you are in a codependent relationship, familiarize yourself with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Low self-esteem:  does helping others make you feel important or needed?
  • People-pleaser:  do you have a hard time saying “no”?
  • Poor boundaries: do you feel responsible for other people’s feelings or problems?
  • Caretaker:  do you sacrifice your own needs to care for your addicted spouse or partner?
  • Control:  do you feel more in control when taking care of others?
  • Poor communication:  do you agree with your spouse out of fear or habit?
  • Obsessions:  do you worry that you made a mistake or that you might make one?
  • Dependency:  do you fear ending the relationship because you need the security?
  • Denial:  do you deny that you need love and intimacy and support?
  • Painful emotions: feelings of despair, resentment, depression are too much and you begin to feel numb.

It is important to note that many of these symptoms are nothing more than deeply ingrained habits.  With proper treatment, you can change these behaviors and become the strong, confident person you were meant to be before entering this codependent relationship.

If you would like more information about getting help for codependency and addiction, call our toll-free number today.  One of our representatives will be available to assist you.


Symptoms of Codependency | Psych Central. Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior. Do you expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you the one that is constantly making sacrifices in your relationship? Then you may be in a codependent relationship. The term codependency has been around for decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics (first called co-alcoholics), researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had previously imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you could also be codependent.

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