Opioid addiction and codependency: counseling for codependency with Empower Counseling offers relief to loved ones of addicts.

The opioid crisis has affected just about everyone in this country over the last few decades in some way. Even if you are not an addict yourself you may know loved ones or friends that struggle with it, or know someone who is trying to cope with a loved one of theirs that battles addiction. While the ways that opioid addiction affects addicts might be more self evident, the ways it affects their loved ones can be just as devastating. Being around someone in active addiction, and all the harmful behaviors that come with it, can be emotionally exhausting at best and traumatic at worst. Those helping addicts experience a great deal of stress and trauma themselves, and its important to be aware of the needs they can often face as a result.


As Good Therapy puts it in their article on how addiction affects relationships, “Every relationship that comes face to face with substance abuse and addiction is bound to suffer tremendously.”. I highly recommend reading it as it gives very good advice on staging an intervention for a loved one and how to go about it. I am inclined to agree with them on this as in my years of working with addicts and their families I have seen what addiction drives people to do.

One of the most common issues I have seen with addicts is the lying and deceit they often commit in order to keep their substance abuse hidden. As a result this causes arguments and fights with loved ones when their lies are inevitably found out, which they almost always are, and this can result in family or friends of addicts developing issues with being unable to trust others. This is a natural result of being lied to repeatedly, even after trying to help someone over and over again.

Addicts often resort to manipulating loved ones to make it seem like the addicts don’t have a problem or make those who might be trying to help them think they are the problem. Even after an addict gets help and is on the road to recovery it can be hard to fully trust them, and for some people that trust is permanently broken. Oftentimes, working with family or friends of addicts involved building their ability to trust again, not to mention processing the trauma they have experienced and the emotional scars it has left them with.

It is just as important for those close to addicts to seek help and work on their mental health as it is for the addicts themselves, instead of ignoring the effect it has had on them and pretending like everything is fine.


Something that we often see in the friends and family of addicts is a tendency towards codependency and enabling. Codependency is excessive reliance on a partner, usually emotionally, and feeling like you need to be close with someone to the point the relationship becomes toxic. This can often stem from attachment issues growing up, as well as other causes, and can result in feeling like this other person is the center of your life. Some people find great meaning in being the caretaker for someone else, and while this is not always a negative trait it can result in them putting their needs beneath someone else’s and doing whatever that other person needs.

This often leads to enabling, which is any behavior that encourages an opioid addict to stay in active addiction. While this is rarely the intended consequence, it often results from the loved ones of addicts making excuses for their behavior and keeping them from having to deal with the consequences of their actions. This is one of the topics I work on the most with family and friends of addicts, as oftentimes the only thing that will get addicts to seek help is when they have to face the consequences of their actions.

If you continue to pay for whatever they need, excuse their behavior, and take on more responsibilities for them then what reason have they been given to stop? Codependency can have significant negative effects on one’s mental health, making someone else the focus of your life can take away your own importance to yourself. I have worked with many clients that had to relearn how to love and care about themselves as they had gotten so used to making others a priority. You should never underestimate the effect that this can have on you, and it is a good idea to reach out to a mental health professional so you can begin your own healing journey.


Counseling is about more than just one’s personal issues. Something we work on with many clients here is helping them learn to set better boundaries with their loved ones and how to love themselves again. Understanding how our relationships affect us is an important part of working on ourselves and being able to adapt to what life throws at us. Standing up for yourself and setting boundaries with others can be very difficult to do on your own, especially if you have been codependent. You may not know how, or where to start. That is OK. You do not have to know. A certified addiction counselor is the best place to start.

If you are someone who has a loved one who is battling addiction it might be time to reach out and talk with a therapist. Adam, with Empower Counseling can help. Adam Elliott has the expertise and compassion to help addicts and loved ones move away from addiction and codependency. Adam offers a unique combination of expertise, as a certified addiction counselor, who is also trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

Through Adam’s work with addicts, he understands not only what they go through but also how loved ones expereince the addiction of those they love. ACT is a particularly helpful therapy for codependency. Through ACT, Adam can help loved ones of addicts begin to focus on your wants and needs. Through value work, it becomes clear exactly how to determine and set boundaries to protect what is important to you. Adam at Empower Counseling can help you learn how to prioritize yourself and your life again, as well as show you how you can balance helping others in a healthier way.

Addiction and codependency counseling for the loved ones of addicts are not the only services Empower Counseling offers at our Birmingham Area counseling clinic. Empower Counseling offers ACT for anxiety counseling and counseling for depression for teens, college students, young adults, and professionals.

It is simple to get started. Reach out to Empower Counseling by clicking here and sending an email message through the Home Page.

By Adam Elliot

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