When most people hear the word codependent, they associate it with addiction or behavioral disorders. In fact, the term was coined nearly 40 years ago in context with alcoholism. Codependency can manifest in many ways, but the common factor is that coping mechanisms become mutually destructive. A person may think they are helping their addicted loved one, but they are only reinforcing negative behaviors by embracing them unconditionally. This pattern inevitably takes a huge toll emotionally and financially.
When a person exhibits codependent behavior, they impose idealistic views on an imperfect relationship, even when it is abusive or neglectful. This situation may arise from feelings of guilt and past baggage. A codependent person not only gives up their needs and wishes, but fruitlessly tries to fulfill their loved one’s needs, sometimes spending excessive amounts of money. In one scenario, parents constantly bail out their grown-up son after multiple DUIs, repeatedly paying for rehab stints and letting him move back home after he loses his job and can no longer afford escalating rent. In another scenario, a single mother of a teenage girl with an eating disorder feels so guilty she buys the girl everything she wants, even when her demands become outrageous.
Addiction and Financial Problems
When a person is struggling with addiction, financial obligations can fall by the wayside. The addicted person may feel trapped and rely even more on the codependent person in the relationship to support them financially. Compounding this issue is that being addicted to drugs or alcohol eventually takes a toll on work performance. This may lead to loss of income, which can spiral into a deepening cycle of poverty and addiction. The codependent person in the relationship now shoulders the full financial burden for the household, with resentment likely festering until they reach a breaking point. The codependent person may make the difficult, painful decision to no longer assume any responsibility for their loved one, leaving the addicted person without an emotional or financial safety net.
Addiction, Homelessness and Codependence
Rising rents have forced an increasing number of people out of their homes, especially in cities already facing rapidly growing homeless populations: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. In these cities, homelessness rates increased by at least 4% between 2011 and 2016, with a clear correlation to rising rents. Cost-of-living issues can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction, homelessness and codependence. While substance abuse and co-occurring mental illness can result in homelessness, some people turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for living on the street. When an addicted person loses the roof over their head, a relative may assume responsibility, thereby thrusting them into a situation that can easily escalate into codependency. Unfortunately, too many people perceive money as far more than what it is by infusing it with childhood memories and emotional baggage. It’s no wonder financial disagreements are the No. 1 reported reason for more than 50% of divorces in the U.S. When a dependent partner has healthy self-esteem and emotional support outside the relationship, being financially dependent doesn’t necessarily lead to codependence. Rather, a couple could be interdependent, with each party making unique contributions to a mutually respectful relationship. The truth is money cannot buy love, and it can lead to codependence, destruction of love and financial ruin. If you are in a codependent relationship, seek help today.